Pharmacists vow to continue with strike

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Public sector pharmacists have resolved to continue with their strike, in spite of a ruling by the National Labour Commission (NLC) in their favour.

The NLC, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, dismissed an application by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to stay the execution of an earlier ruling relating to the grading of public sector pharmacists.

The decision to throw out the application means that the FWSC has to implement an earlier ruling by the NLC given on January 23, 2013 that endorsed a grading structure for public sector pharmacists given by the Ghana Health Service Council and the Ministry of Health ( MoH).

The decision, however, does not end the almost three-week-old strike by public sector pharmacists.

The Chairman of  the Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA), Mr Stephen Corquaye, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the strike would continue until the FWSC implemented the ruling of the NLC.

In addition, he said the market premium of pharmacists, which had been a bone of contention between the GHOSPA and the FWSC for the past 18 months, had to be resolved before public sector pharmacists would return to work.

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He said while other workers had benefited from an interim market premium, pharmacists in the public sector had not, although they were entitled to.

Mr Corquaye said regardless of the White Paper issued by the government on market premiums, pharmacists would want their interim market premium to be paid before a substantive one was determined.

He explained further that public sector pharmacists had taken that position because the market premium factor, in addition to their basic salary, made them worse off in terms of their earnings now than previously.

He said until all those issues were resolved, pharmacists would continue with their industrial action.

At the hearing, counsel for the FWSC, Mr Augustine Ahamey, presented the case of the commission on why the implementation of the decision of the NLC had to be stayed.

He said the FWSC had filed a notice of appeal at the Appeal Court against the decision of the NLC because implementing the grading structure would ignite industrial disharmony and chaos within the public service.

He added that the issues before the NLC, based on which the decision was given on January 23, 2013, were not properly detailed, while the FWSC was not given a fair hearing on the matter before the ruling was given.

Mr Ahamey emphasised that the grading and classification of jobs was the prerogative of the FWSC, in accordance with the laws setting up the commission.

Counsel for GHOSPA, Mr Ernest Owusu Aboagye, asked the NLC to dismiss the application because it was fraught with anomalies and errors.

Story: Caroline Boateng