The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA) last Friday notified its members to gear up for a total nationwide strike starting September, 5.
This follows a lack of concrete results after prolonged engagements with the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC), the body that deals with labor issues on behalf of the government. “Our engagements with FWSC and the National Labor Commission (NLC) this week did not change the status quo,” remarked the GHOSPA chairman, Pharm. Agyemang Badu in a communication to GHOSPA members.
GHOSPA last month expressed displeasure about the inordinate delay in getting a Codified Conditions of Service for its members, mainly pharmacists working public sector hospitals. The union also chided government for dragging its feet over the last 6 years on some other outstanding issues concerning the placement of pharmacists on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
In an 8-page synopsis aimed at informing members on the state of GHOSPA’s engagements with the FWSC, the NEC noted the following as the “issues warranting this strike action”:
1) Government’s refusal to give a Codified Conditions of Service to public sector pharmacists
2) Differences in Interim Market Premium among public sector pharmacists. (For example, hospital pharmacists in university hospitals have different Interim Market Premium compared with pharmacists in teaching hospitals.)
3) Wrong Grade Structure and placement for public sector pharmacists which is at odds to a NLC ruling dating back to 2013. (For example the NLC ruling places Specialist Pharmacist at 23L whilst FWSC refuses to implement that ruling and rather places the Specialist Pharmacist at 21L on the SSSS.)
In the document, the executives express worry and displeasure about the FWSC’s intent to hide a Technical Committee’s report from them. The FWSC in the earlier part of this year set up a Technical Committee with the mandate of proposing a road map and a set of recommendations to bring closure to the 6-year impasse between GHOSPA and FWSC. In last May, the committee submitted its report to the FWSC for adoption. However, the GHOSPA NEC is yet to sight and appraise itself with the content of the report as a key party. The FWSC is yet to respond to an official request for the report.
They also fault government for not treating their issues as essential service providers under the country’s labor law. “Issues pertaining to essential service workers are supposed to be addressed with urgent attention,” noted the synopsis. “It took about two months (4th January to 2nd March 2016) for GHOSPA to be called for its hearing on this issue. And between the 2nd March to date is another 6 months. So obviously, we have not received such attention,” they lament in the document.
At this year’s AGM held in Sunyani last two weeks, the Health Minister, Hon. Alex P. Segbefia whilst expressing his desire to solve GHOSPA’s labor-related issues also noted that the issues require some of sort of divine intervention. This probably underscored the magnitude of frustration the minister himself is facing regarding GHOSPA’s longstanding issues with the SSSS.