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FWSC Heads For Court To Stop Payment Of Conversion Difference To Doctors   
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The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) says the payment of conversion difference and market premium to public sector doctors can collapse the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).

Sources at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning indicate that the payment of the conversion difference alone to public sector doctors from January, 2012 to May, 2013 will cost the government about GHc76 million.

The conversion difference is the compensation paid to job holders to ensure that they are not worse off after they had been placed on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

It is only meant to cushion the job holder until such time that others of the same level who were previously earning low salaries catch up to ensure that no one is made worse off on the new structure.

In view of the challenges such payment poses to the government, the FWSC has decided to head to the law court to overturn a directive by the National Labour Commission (NLC) issued on May 7, 2013 for the payment of the conversion difference to public sector doctors.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the FWSC, Mr George Smith-Graham, permitting the payment of conversion difference and market premium would be contrary to the fundamental principle of the unitary structure which focused on equal pay for equal work and fairness in pay administration.

The dilemma

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Smith-Graham explained that when doctors were to be migrated from the Health Service Salary Structure (HSSS) to the SSSS, an interim market premium was introduced to cover their extra duty hours of work.

Thus, whereas the SSSS was based on a 40-hour-week period, the HSSS for doctors catered for additional duty hours of 15, making the total 55.

He said unlike all other public sector workers, doctors had such an element in their old salary structure.

The FWSC realised that to translate the element of additional duty-hour allowance (ADHA) into a conversion difference would mean that with time what they were to earn for extra hours worked would be eroded, Mr Smith-Graham said.

He said an interim market premium (IMP) was, therefore, implemented for doctors to cover the ADHA, adding that apart from the court processes, the issue was also before the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee (PSJSNC), with the majority of the members of the view that doctors could not benefit from an IMP and a conversion difference at the same time.


Two members of the PSJSNC interviewed by the Daily Graphic were, however, optimistic that a resolution of the issue could be found within the body.

The Local Chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) branch of the Public Services Workers Union, Mr A. G. Ampong, said opening negotiations in good faith would clear up the issue, while Dr Boi Kikimoto of the Ghana Veterinary Medical Association appealed to the conscience of colleague public sector workers who had previously been earning more to learn to sacrifice.
Source: Daily Graphic

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