Employment and Labour Minister Haruna Iddrisu has described as illegal a strike called by psychiatric nurses, Thursday and has threatened to sanction the striking nurses.

He said even though the nurses have every right to feel disappointed over the non-payment of their salaries their declaration of strike is clearly unacceptable.

The nurses are demanding a salary arrears of at least one year. They called a similar strike a couple of months ago but were promised the salaries will be paid hence a decision to call off the strike. However the minister reneged on his promise to pay and the nurses are back on strike.

Spokesperson of the nurses, Emmanuel Febiri said:

“We are going to the house because some of us need to settle our loans and rents and we’ve given our creditors the assurance that by the end of the month we will settle our debts but nothing has happened so we’re going to the house and until the monies are released into our accounts, we will stay there.” 

But government said the strike cannot stand. Employment Minister Haruna Iddrisu said the strike comes as a surprise, especially when attempts are being made to pay the arrears.

"I invited them to my office on Tuesday to apprise them of the developments in relation to payment for the salaries for the month of September," Haruna Iddrisu said.

The Minister blamed the delay in the payment on "government bureaucracy" and "HR failure" but said those were no excuses for the nurses to announce a strike without notice. 

"The strike is illegal, clearly unlawful. That is disrespectful to the labour laws of the country even if i have failed to honour the promise," he said.

He threatened the striking nurses may lose their salaries for the period in which they are out of the office.

But the nurses are unfazed. They have rather called the bluff of government vowing they will continue with the strike until their salaries are paid.

One of the nurses, Philip Frempong Otchere said: "It is quite unfortunate that we appear to have entered into a banter with the comment coming from the office of the Labour Minister. The threat of sanction to us will not influence our decision in any way to get back to work because we believe we are on course.

"It is a failed agreement on the part of government," he added.

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