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Feature Article of Monday, 22 October 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Should Strike Action By Public Sector Be Banned

Should Strike Action By Public Sector Teachers & Healthcare Professionals Be Banned In Ghana?

By Kofi Thompson

If our parliamentarians see the need to adopt a consensus approach when it comes to the issue of their emoluments, then they must also do so in tackling many of the problems that confront Ghanaian society.

Take the issue of students in public educational institutions not being taught, and patients in government hospitals being denied the services of healthcare personnel, as a result of strike action, for example.

Can it not be argued that it is totally unacceptable that ordinary people can be held to ransom in such unacceptable fashion in 21st century Ghana - by professionals trained at great cost to taxpayers?

Has the time therefore not come for all the political parties in Ghana to unite and agree that after the December presidential and parliamentary elections, Government and Parliament will be asked to take immediate steps to ensure that legislation is passed, which will ensure that never again will those being educated in public educational institutions, and patients attending public-sector healthcare facilities, be denied access to the services offered by those institutions, as a result of strike action by teachers and healthcare professionals?

To whom much is given, much is also expected of. Compared to the many struggling families of working class Ghanaians, those who teach in public educational institutions and public-sector healthcare professionals, are relatively much better off materially.

Surely, in this day and age, there can be no justification for teachers and healthcare professionals putting the education of those attending public educational institutions in jeopardy, and the health of those who use public-sector healthcare facilities, at risk, by embarking on strike action?

Can it not be argued, dear reader, that schoolchildren, students, outpatients and those on admission in government hospitals and polyclinics across Ghana, are being held to ransom in such circumstances - and that in a sense it is an abuse of their human rights?

Yes, healthcare professionals and teachers are important to society, and must be well-compensated.

However, they must always remember that all Ghanaians have, of necessity, to make sacrifices as we journey towards a prosperous future together.

What will happen to our nation and its people, were the men and women who serve in the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Armed Forces and the other security agencies - who put their lives on the line on a daily basis - to embark on strike action over pay, I ask?

The Ghanaian nation-state does not have a bottomless pot of cash sitting in the national treasury. For the general good, all those who work for the Ghanaian nation-state must be prepared to sacrifice a little for the sake of Mother Ghana.

If it were possible, perhaps public-sector healthcare professionals and those who teach in public educational institutions in Ghana, would be paid some of the highest salaries for healthcare professionals and teachers in the world - but in our present circumstances, that is simply not possible.

Perhaps providing accommodation near where they work across the country, would make a difference to healthcare professionals and those who teach in public educational institutions.

Let Ghana's politicians agree that that will be done in phases, until they are all housed near where they work.

Since their work is of an essential nature, for the common good, should Ghanaian politicians not unite to pass legislation banning strike action by public-sector healthcare professionals and teachers working in public educational institutions?

One hopes that that will be done quickly - for the sake of ordinary people in Ghana. A word to the wise.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com.

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