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Return to negotiation table – Fair Wages Commission to nurses, midwives

BY: graphic.com.gh

The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) has urged the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) to return to the negotiation table in relation to their conditions of service.

The FWSC in a statement issued on Sunday, September 20, said it was surprised at the GRNMA’s decision to embark on an industrial strike effective Monday, September 21, especially when negotiation was ongoing.

The GRNMA last Thursday announced its decision to withdraw services to press home the demand for improved conditions of service.

In a statement, the association alleged that the government’s stance during negotiations fell foul of Act 651 of the Labour Law, which deals with issues of good faith and which the association appears to also have an issue with.

However, the National Labour Commission (NLC) last Friday obtained an interlocutory injunction against the GRNMA, restraining it from embarking on the proposed strike and directed the GRNMA to appear before it on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

Government surprised

Giving a chronology of events in relation to the negotiations, the FWSC said per the rules of engagement signed and dated July 29, 2019 at the inception of the negotiation process, parties agree that they would refrain from going to the press while negotiations were ongoing.

“While the parties in the course of the negotiations have not declared a deadlock, members of the GRNMA surprisingly resorted to the media declaring their intention to go on strike beginning 21st September,” the statement said.

It added that the GRNMA officially submitted their proposals to FWSC on January 20, 2020 and upon receipt of the proposals, the FWSC set February 18, 2020 to commence negotiations.

“However, on 17th February, 2020, just a day before the negotiation was to commence, the GRNMA, citing errors in the earlier proposal, per letter number GRNMA/S/20- 02/17/01 re-submitted their Conditions of Service proposals. Subsequent negotiation was however disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” it added.

It said on June 4 and 5, 2020, the government team led by the FWSC engaged in meetings with

GRNMA to officially kick-start negotiations and at the meeting, the GRNMA submitted nine new proposals for consideration.

It said on September 3, 2020, both parties met to finalize negotiations at which government presented counter proposals in respect of the nine new proposals.

It added further that at a meeting held at the Ministry of Health on September 15, 2020, both parties reached an agreement on the Non-Basic Salary Allowance, which was part of the nine (9) new proposals.

“In order to ensure speedy conclusion of negotiations, another meeting was held on Wednesday, 16th September, 2020 to try to reach an agreement on the eight other proposals. It must be noted that the Government Team, in principle, agreed to six out of the eight outstanding proposals submitted by GRNMA. Both parties therefore quickly agreed to a four week time frame where concrete decisions would be taken on the outstanding proposals and also agreed to keep these outof the media for the duration of negotiations,” the statement said.

“The government team is therefore, at a loss as to why the GRNMA decided to declare an industrial action effective 21st September, 2020, contrary to our underlying agreement reached on 16th September, 2020,” it said.

The FWSC therefore, urged the GRNMA to reconsider its decision to embark on the strike and return to the negotiation table.

“In the spirit of the goodwill shown by Government towards health workers and in particular nurses and midwives since 2017 in the areas of recruitment and restoration of Nursing Trainee Allowance among others, we would by this press release urge the leadership of the GRNMA to return to the negotiating table in order to reach an amicable agreement,” the statement said.