Zibe intervenes to end doctors’ strike
By JEFFREY ELAPA
HEALTH Minister Sasa Zibe has ironed out differences with the striking doctors, paving way for them to return to work today, The National reports.
Zibe personally took charge of the situation as National Court judge Justice Catherine Davani reminded the doctors of her court order last Friday not to strike while she heard substantive matters on their revised log of claims yesterday.
She is due to make a ruling today.
In an unprecedented move, the health minister, who had blamed the bureaucracy for dragging its feet in the doctors’ claim, met with the NDA executives at the PNG Trade Union Congress headquarters to agree on a compromise.
Zibe announced after the meeting that a memorandum of understanding would be signed today by the relevant parties although he did not disclose the content of the MoU.
In a complementary move, Public Service Minister Moses Maladina also met with NDA executives but the outcome of that meeting was not immediately known.
NDA president Dr Kauve Pomat was jubilant last night, saying he welcomed Zibe’s decision to sign an MoU.
Since last Friday, the NDA executive had refused to meet with Health secretary Dr Clement Malau and his Personnel Management counterpart John Kali for further dialogue on their revised log of claims which, they claimed, should have been concluded last September.
Malau and Kali maintained that the 2007-09 MoA had been fully implemented and the doctors were paid more than K10 million in backdated claims.
The NDA wanted a new agreement to revise the 2007-10 awards relating to, among others, medical officers’ salary classifications and progression, medical/dental officer classification, domestic market allowance, consolidated clinical overtime and on-call allowances.
In a separate statement, Malau said he had done all he could to address the doctors’ concerns, adding that a transitional arrangement was made which led to the MoU signed between the state and NDA.
He said this was done to fully implement the 2007-09 MoA while waiting for a new agreement to be signed by the two parties for a new log of claims.
Malau said under the MoU, the Heath Department was to implement a number of key commitments, which included the appointment of a chief medical officer under the new structure, work value study and appropriate remuneration for doctors.
They were fully implemented by the department, he said, adding that Health then worked on its own restructure and alignment of the work value study to restructure doctors’ remuneration packages.
Malau said this package was provided to the NDA to use as part of the new log of claims to be submitted to Personnel Management Department for negotiations to take place.