December 17, 2017

PNG doctors call off strike

A planned strike by doctors has been called off after the Government Thursday met four of their seven demands including the payment of K1.3 million(US$404,000) to cover their insurance premiums.

National Doctors Association secretary Dr Sam Yockopua told The National last night the three remaining demands “are in process”.

“We are satisfied so we will continue work,” he said.

The strike by association members, which Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu and Personnel Department Secretary John Kali said would have been illegal, was to have started yesterday.

Sir Puka confirmed that K1.3mil had been paid and all the other demands were administrative matters which would be addressed.

“We have paid the premium insurance and we will address the other administrative issues as soon as possible,” he said.

Doctors this week threatened to withdraw their services in a nationwide strike if their sevens demands were not addressed immediately. They had submitted the same seven demands to the government earlier this year but received no response.

The demands are that:

*An outstanding insurance premium of K1.13 million(US$351,000) to be paid before close of business on Dec 14 (Thursday);
*the outstanding NDA awards for national medical academics, the money managed by the University of PNG, to be paid by close of business on Pay 26 of 2017;
*the State to show commitment to honour the award and facilitate the NDA HOS which includes financial contributions;
*all doctors must have their contracts signed, gratuity calculations and payments done in compliance to the existing agreement by Pay 26 of 2017;
*all doctors who have been employed must have their appointments confirmed, salaries and remuneration packages sorted out, and those seeking employment in the public sector must be promoted;
*all outstanding rentals to be paid before close of business Thursday (Dec 14); and,
*All outstanding claims by service providers must be paid by the end of the year.

Kali told The National that the strike threat strike contravened the Public Services Act and the General Orders.

He said it would have breached an agreement signed between the doctors and the government which stipulated that doctors were engaged in an essential service and must ensure that their services were not hindered or interrupted by any industrial action.