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Sylvester Mensah
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AGGRIEVED WORKERS of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Ashanti Region and other parts of the country on Monday morning began a sit-down strike to drum home their grievances.

The NHIS staff have stated that until their conditions of service were improved, they would not return to work, DAILY GUIDE was hinted by some of the irate workers.

The industrial action, sources at the NHIA disclosed to the paper, was to mount pressure on the authorities concerned to quickly implement mechanisms to improve their conditions of service.

Some of the NHIA workers who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity disclosed that their conditions of service had not been reviewed for the past two years.

They complained that their pleas to their employers to do something about their salaries and other incentives during the last two years seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

This unpleasant development, the NHIS staff argued, had made life extremely difficult for them as their finances were nothing to write home about.

It would be recalled that DAILY GUIDE recently published a report about NHIS staff threatening to embark on a strike action, starting in March 2012, if their conditions of service were not improved by that time.

The ultimatum given to the government by the irate NHIS staff elapsed at the end of February but the aggrieved NHIS staff have not heard anything positive as regards their conditions of service.

A source disclosed that the National Labour Commission (NLC’s) last minute attempt to persuade the hierarchy of the NHIS staff to rescind their decision of going on strike failed.

It noted that due to the intervention of the NLC, some of the leaders of the NHIS workers decided to send text messages to their members to halt the strike action for now.

The source said the NHIS workers, especially those operating outside the big cities, ignored the last minute suggestion from their leaders to delay the strike.

According to the source, the NHIS staff insisted that poverty was rapidly overwhelming them; therefore they would no longer go to work until their conditions of service were reviewed.

In Sunyani, the Health Insurance Workers Union said they were on strike following the deadlock in their salary negotiations with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

At an emergency meeting held on February 29, 2012 at Nsawam, the national executives committee of Health Insurance Workers Union, UNICOF Local, advised its staff across the country to embark on an “industrial lock-up strike action” with effect from yesterday, Monday March 5.

The resolution, a copy of which is available to DAILY GUIDE, was signed by the union’s acting national president, Amos Yemoah, secretary Kingsley K. Bobie and financial secretary Frank Owusu-Henabah, and distributed to all regional presidents of the union across the country.

Currently, the schemes in Ashanti, Upper West and East, and Eastern regions have closed down their offices. Their counterparts in Brong Ahafo, Western, Northern and Central regions are however at post based on a late hour directive they received from their national executives over the weekend to hold on with the strike. It is however not clear whether they will later join the strike action.

The national executive committee has resolved not to attend the Standing Negotiation Committee (SNC) meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, based on the fact that the NHIA representatives on the table keep on informing the house that they have no mandate to decide on most of the pertinent issues proposed by the union.

“In fact, until NHIA presents people who have the authority to take decisions on the remaining articles in the condition of service and all other unresolved issues enshrined in NEC’s resolution to NHIA, we shall stay out of the table,” the NEC stated.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the National Labour Commission intervened last Friday evening to impress on the Association of District Mutual Health Insurance Staff of Ghana not to embark on the intended strike action.

Following that meeting with the NLC, the NEC issued new directives to the regions and the district schemes to hold on with the intended strike, but most of the leadership could not meet their members over the weekend to reverse their planned action.
Source: Daily Guide Ghana

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