The Minority Caucus in Parliament has expressed regret of police harassment and intimidation of unemployed nurses who picketed at the Ministry of Health (MOH) to demand for employment.
Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, the Ranking Member of the Health Committee, speaking at a joint press conference in Parliament House with the leadership of the Graduate Unemployed Nurses and Midwives Association (GUNMA), said it wrong for the nurses to be treated in that manner.
He alleged that the Government was using the police to intimidate the nurses and create a culture of silence.
The GUNMA has a membership of over 41,000 unemployed nurses and midwives, with the breakdown being; Diploma (2017) 9,800, Diploma (2018) 1,500, Certificate (2017), 16,000, and Certificate (2018) 14,000.
He said those nurses and midwives had not been paid their nursing training allowances as promised by the Government while they were in school.
Mr Akandoh commended the Association for the patience and adherence to due process of engagement and negotiations, which unfortunately failed to address members’ concerns, for which they finally had to embark on the picketing.
“We, therefore, find it unfortunate that since meeting with President Akufo-Addo, the Vice President, and many other meetings held with other government officials, government has failed to provide the promised immediate employment for which the nurses forfeited their training allowances,” he added.
He called on the Government to expedite action on the uncompleted and abandoned health facilities littered across the country and make the already completed ones fully operational.
That would help create more vacancies to absorb the unemployed nurses, he added.
Mr Sugri Abdul-Rafiq, the National President, GUNMA, expressed shock at the harassment and arrest by the police of some members and leaders of the Association as they picketed at the MOH.
He explained that one of their members was handcuffed with no reason and five other executive members, who decided to follow up on the case, were also arrested and kept in a temporal cell at the CID Office of the Regional Police Headquarters.
Mr Alexander Abban, the Deputy Minister of Health, in reaction to the Minority press conference, debunked claims that the Government was using the police to intimidate unemployed nurses.
He said the current administration had no intention to create a culture of silence by intimidating people who exercised their democratic rights to demonstrate.
“This is a government that has the people at heart and allow people to vent their concerns by protesting or participate in any other form of public engagement.”
Mr Abban also stated that all recruitments, which was about 54,000, that the Government had made over the period were meant to deal with the backlog of nurses left from 2012 to 2016 by the then National Democratic Congress government, based on International Monetary Fund conditionality to freeze public sector employment.
He, however, noted that the current administration had meticulously recruited the backlog.