The Junior Nurses and Midwives Group is on the verge of embarking on nationwide strike if its demand for improved conditions of service is not met by next week.
According to the group, they are still on a student allowance (GH¢290 monthly) since they graduated from school in 2010 instead of taking regular salary from the Ghana Health Service.
Members of the group said they had explored every avenue for redress but their efforts had not been fruitful. They are giving government one week to address their plight, failure of which would lead to a demonstration and subsequently, a general strike.
At a news conference in Accra Thursday, Courage Kwame-Kumah, National Coordinator of the group said that Diploma 10 and 11 groups were the most affected.
He said attempts to halt what he called the “backdating of appointments of junior nurses’ was the root cause of the issue.
“The attempt by the government not to backdate the appointment of the Diploma 10 group who have graduated and invariably the Diploma II by putting the latter on a phantom internship allowance with which case they have been denied the right to remuneration as diploma nurses and midwives will not be tolerated”, he said.
He said attempts to fight for what was due them started as far back as 2011 resulting in a strike action adding that “after several calls from the good people of Ghana and promises from the Ministry of Health (MOH), we were forced to call of the strike action on October 14, 2011 hoping our demands would met but unfortunately, exactly a year down the line, it has been a total disregard and insult to the junior nurses and midwives.”
“How does anybody expect us to live on GH¢290 monthly and survive”? Those of us in the cities for instance have had to find our own accommodation, fees, transport, food and clothing,” he complained.
Mr. Kwame-Kumah said further currently the core of work in state health facilities was being handled by them because most senior nurses are either pursuing degree courses or were in management positions.
“I can state on authority that our condition of service is not the best as they want everybody to believe. We are still not on payroll two years after graduating from school and nobody is listening to us.”
Another issue the group complained about is the mandatory national service which they said was destroying smooth integration of new professionals into the health system.
They cited irregularities in national service postings where graduands who volunteered to service in rural areas were posted to Accra.
“In the postings for instance 10 of our colleagues volunteered to service in health facilities in the Krachi district but when the postings came out only two were sent there. The rest had been assigned to serve in Accra.”
“We have been patient enough. We are concerned about the lives of patients who visit the hospitals that is why we have remained silent for a long time. We think we are being shortchanged and we are going to fight for our rights,” he said.