Saturday, 27 April 2013

My Official Defence of Ghana's Doctors and other strikers... March On!

I was initially going to blog about the MTTU on-the-spot-fine that is being propsed, but I think there is a massive elephant in the room that I've only casually referred too and not actually spoken about. 

The doctors' strike. 

If you are in Ghana and you are upset about the doctors' strike did you join #1SimpleStep

Kofi Thompson (I don't know what his profession is) wrote for Vibe Ghana on the topic of these strikes. The headline of the article was "Make Ghana Immune To Public Sector Strikes". I clicked on it because I agreed to an extent. A well oiled machine can negotiate better some bumps in the road. We should get to the point where MPs cannot hype up the situation to a matter of life and death, but let me not get ahead of myself. 

The crux of Kofi's article went as follows (I will provide my response in red):

No Ghanaian citizen resident in Ghana, ought to become a victim of striking and militant employees, of entities that come under various organs of the Ghanaian nation-state.

It really is intolerable that innocent people should die needlessly, for example, as a result of strike action by healthcare professionals, employed to work in government hospitals and clinics around the country. Nothing can justify that. Ever. Not in a civilised nation such as ours. Ok, really sensationalist from the off. He wastes no time. But is it intolerable really? The fact of the matter is that it is in the prerogative of workers to strike when dissatisfied with their employers. The state is the employer and the state is run by the government and we all know how incompetent many governments in Africa can be. Should doctors simply remain silent. Until when? Until elections, in order to convince their fellow citizens not to vote for the failing government? Would the reaction not be to ask why they didn't say or do something before? They have tried saying it, and the government has not felt the urgency to act and meet demands so now they are doing something and the same failing government is tarnishing them with imagery of murderers.

The time has now come for those who currently rule our nation, to take active steps to ensure that no employee of any entity under an organ of a nation-state, which spends over 60 percent of total government revenue to pay its employees, can ever hold Ghanaians to ransom, by embarking on strike action under any circumstances – without automatically being dismissed from their job. Firstly, a little minor thing but Ghana is not a nation state. Secondly, see above. Kofi's argument implies that the state is an incorrigible, always correct employer. We all know that's lies. 

There can be no justification for state employees inconveniencing Ghanaian citizens by embarking on strike action. 

After all, it is precisely because of the dedicated service they are required to render the people of Ghana and their nation, during their working lives, that the Ghanaian nation-state guarantees public-sector employees a pension for the rest of their lives: when they finally go on retirement. So Kofi argues that they should remain silent when they are upset in their under paid jobs because at least they will get paid some money (probably also less than it should be) when they leave the job they hated.

President Mahama’s administration ought to draw up a suitable bill to be presented to Parliament, and passed into law, which will outlaw strikes by all categories of public-sector employees. It is long overdue – in a nation that has to be globally competitive and disciplined in order to prosper. Let's try getting the Bill of Information and ROPA through first eh? One logologo line!

President Mahama and his administration, must learn valuable lessons from the extraordinary number of actual strikes – and threats of strikes – by public-sector employees, since their regime came to power in January 2013. 

He moves onto GOIL and state owned transportation, however keeping GOIL and others in inadequate hands just because it's government hands and the government can "legitimately" bully people is wrong. 

The funny bit and it DOES get hilarious is when Kofi Thompson argues: 

Instead of the short-sighted decision to find a so-called strategic investor to hand it over to, the present government would be wise to give the Intercity STC bus company to the commercial wing of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to run as a business.

It is just the sort of business that will thrive in the efficient and disciplined hands of the GAF – which is peerless when it comes to logistics. And whilst you're at it get rid of this thing democracy, roll back 25 years to when we were under the disciplined hands of the military. Disciplined, Ghana may have been, but poor, in fear, and an embarrassment it was also! Does everyone remember what the GAF did to the industries it confiscated. Really, you've got to be either stupid, crazy or on drugs to suggest handing over the STC to the GAF who are supposed to be focused on defending the land and supporting international task forces. This point just makes me laugh-cry in pity for people who think like this. If the GAF were so very good at business... - well I could go on with this point but I think you and I can list the countless reasons why this point was bull****. 

He continues: 

What is going on now, is only a dress rehearsal for the 2015-2016 campaign season, when Ghana will definitely become ungovernable – if laws outlawing strikes by public-sector employees are not in place by then – as its main political opponent seeks to make the Mahama administration unpopular. If the Mahama administration sows the seeds now, they will not give justification to strikes later but if they continue to insult people who frankly have a bigger daily impact on the country than themselves then they should expect problems later. And how popular do you think the country's largest employer will be if it stops all its employees from complaining and striking when the time calls. How many of you, when given the chance to choose your CEO would choose the guy who abolished the office christmas party or the employee feedback system and whose HR department added insult to injury by slagging you off to the customers. Come on guys, let's be real.

I do hope Kofi Thompson sees this. Maybe he could revise his argument. My twitter handle is @thebellower

If you agree with him tell me why? I initially thought, that making Ghana immune to strikes meant constantly reviewing the productivity and performance so that these things don't occur to begin with. I then also thought immunity was meant that the government could negotiate the appearance of strikes and official protests so that the doctors and others don't feel ignored, but clearly for some becoming immune to strikes means gagging people and tying them up so they can't resist. It means holding their families ransom when you've failed them... wasn't there a dictator with the same plan somewhere?

No comments:

Post a Comment