Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Doctors defiant

THE nationwide doctors’ strike appears to be headed for the courts today as six more trade unions threw their support behind the National Doctors Association, The National reports.

Hagen hospital empty ... Normally one of the busiest sections of Mt Hagen General Hospital in Western Highlands, the hospital pharmacy, was yesterday empty of its usual packed crowd waiting to collect their medication. Only the patients who consulted the nurses were treated or prescribed treatment. Most other sections of the hospital were empty yesterday as patients, who needed to see specialist doctors and medical workers, sought treatment elsewhere following the nationwide doctors’ strike, which will enter its fourth day today. Mt Hagen is also a major referral hospital for the highlands region. – Nationalpic by YVONNE HAIP
 The NDA executives face the likelihood of being held in contempt of a court order stopping them from striking last Friday.
A worst case scenario is being arrested and locked up.
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Sir Arnold Amet had instructed Solicitor-General Neville Devete to tell the court an earlier interim stay order restraining the doctors from going on strike was served on them last Friday but they had not complied with it.
As the strike enters its fourth day, most doctors nationwide stayed away from work after the Health and Personnel Management departments failed to reach an agreement with the NDA for improved pay and working conditions for its 500 members.
As the executives of the NDA face the prospect of being arrested for contempt, the umbrella PNG Trade Union Congress warned that national security was at stake.
Its management board met and agreed that the PNGTUC utilises all possible means and ways to have the matter resolved amicably following due industrial relations processes.
It added that all forms of industrial action, including a nationwide strike for all member associations, could not be ruled out.
“The strike is over a legitimate matter and has no political motives and will have adverse implications on the lives of the workers and their children, on the ordinary people of PNG and the lives of the patients,” it said in a statement.
As of yesterday, more than six trade unions said they supported the doctors and called on the government to intervene to save lives of the sick in hospitals.
Among them were the PNG Communications Workers Union and the PNG Maritime and Transport Workers Union which said separately that all available avenues must be explored to find an acceptable negotiation settlement instead of provoking and inflaming the situation by resorting to National Court injunctions.

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