Gov’t releases funds to pay psychiatric nurses

•  Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, addressing the media.      Photo: Seth Osabukle

• Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, addressing the media. Photo: Seth Osabukle

Government has released GH¢760,000 for the payment of outstanding arrears to psychiatric nurses across the country.

It has subsequently, called on all striking nurses, including psychiatric, general nurses and midwives to return to work.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, who announced this at a press conference in Accra yesterday, said the payment was in fulfillment of government’s promise to pay the nurses by the end of last month.

According to him, processes were far advanced to ensure payment to other categories of nurses whose outstanding arrears have not been paid.

“There are 7,900 nurses whose documents and salaries are being processed for payment. The institutions responsible for the payments are steadily working to ensure quick payment,” he stated.

Mr. Iddrisu, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the decision of the nurses to go on strike whilst negotiating with government, saying “such attitude transgresses the labour law which forbid workers to strike while negotiating their compensations and therefore, should not be encouraged”.

About 190 psychiatric nurses across the country, last Thursday began an indefinite strike to compel government to pay their seven to 12 months accumulated salaries and outstanding arrears.

The nurses are made up of four batches who assumed duty in June 2013, September 2013, April 2014 and May 2014.

Additional 7,900 unpaid nurses, midwives, health assistants and community nurses declared a nationwide strike on Monday to demand their outstanding arrears.

The nurses said they would continue their strike until all their arrears and allowances were paid.

However, Mr. Iddrisu said nurses and midwives who would fail to work for this month following the strike, would not be paid.

He called on the striking nurses to call off the strike or forfeit their October salaries, saying “at a meeting held on Friday, October 2, government assured that all unpaid newly posted nurses’ salaries were being processed to be paid at the end of October.

“Additionally,, government assured the leadership of the Coalition of Psychiatric Nurses that their salary arrears would be imputed on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD) system latest by Tuesday, October 6, 2015 for them to be paid.”

Meanwhile, the 2016 National Daily Minimum Wage (NDMW) for workers across the country has been fixed at GH¢8.00.

The figure represents 14.2 per cent increase over last year’s minimum wage of GH¢6.00.

Mr. Haruna, who announced this at the press conference, said the figure was agreed upon last week by the National Tripartite Committee (NTC), which comprises of government, organised labour and private sector employers associations.

He said the basic salaries and wages on the single spine salary structure for public sector workers have been increased by 10 per cent at 1.7 per cent rate in an agreement reached by the Public Service Joint Standing Committee.

The effective date for the implementation of both increments is January 1, 2016.

Mr. Iddrisu urged employers, particularly those in the private sector to comply strictly with the newly agreed minimum wage.

He said the NDMW was obligated by the Labour Act and therefore binding on all employers including those in the informal sector to comply.

“Any establishment, institution, and organisation whose daily minimum wage is below the new NDMW should adjust accordingly. We are emphatic on this directive; that employers who fail to comply will face the full rigours of the law,” he said.

By Charles Amankwa    

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