Four major hospitals to be targeted over outstanding claims
By KARI TOTONA
DOCTORS yesterday decided to go on a nationwide strike starting next Friday, The National reports.
The National Doctors Association (NDA) yesterday confirmed the industrial action, saying this was because the departments of Health and Personnel Management had failed to honour commitments they reached in agreements and understandings last year to improve doctors’ work conditions.
The doctors were supported by the Nurses Association, which was also considering its options.
Trade Union Congress (TUC) secretary-general John Paska, who met with the doctors’ executive committee, condemned the inaction and called for the sacking of the departmental heads.
NDA president Dr Kauve Pomat said the strike could have been averted and expressed bitter disappointment at learning that the DPM had no knowledge of the NDA negotiations and the memorandum of agreement with draft awards signed in 2007.
The MoA draft agreement was for 2007-09 after the NDA came up with a job value study which resulted in two outcomes; the salary structure and the incentive packages.
“DPM has always been a party in the MoA signing and, so, we have gathered all regional representatives today to get their views.
“From today’s (yesterday) executive meeting, we have come up with the resolution to go on an industrial strike nationwide,” he said.
The president told the media that they would meet with the industrial registry office today to set the ball rolling.
“This is an indication of inefficiency of the employer (Health) and they have been known for signing MoU and MoA and not implementing them,” he said.
Another member Dr Thomas Vinit said that doctors had been considerate but the MoA had lapsed and there was no more agreement in place.
“The government of the day and the employer has to decide for the public what’s best for them and everyone else who will be affected by this,” he said.
Emergency cases would be attended upon advice during the strike.
Pomat also revealed that 68 doctors had left the industry to look for greener pastures while four hospitals remained closed.
About 20% of national doctors are not members of the NDA.
Paska said doctors in PNG should not be forced to walk out of their jobs.
“This is a huge disgrace to the country and those incompetent heads in the Health and Personnel Management departments should be sacked for their inaction,” he said.
He stressed that doctors could not continue to work under stress when the terms and conditions that go with their employment were sub-standard.
“Doctors are not the same as others because they deal with people’s lives and for the DPM to play marbles with them is injustice,” he said.
Paska said, if in the event that the doctors go on strike and any life or lives are lost, those concerned should sue Health and Personnel Management.
Nurses Association (NA) president Eimi Kaptigau said many doctors and nurses were either aged or sick and those able had to work twice as hard under poor conditions.
“Aren’t they concerned about the situation?” she asked.
She said doctors and nurses work for the same employer and that they were in this together.
Kaptigau said doctors and nurses “cannot be treated like this”.
“With the government’s Vision 2050, where is the human resource attraction in the health sector?” she asked.
The National understands that responses from provinces would come out in a scheduled executive meeting next week.