By LULU MARK
NURSES, at loggerheads with the Government over “outstanding awards” they claim are due to them, yesterday began a sit-in protest which they promised to continue until their demand is met. PNG Nurses Association (PNGNA) president Frederick Kebai said the nurses wanted the Government to implement the industrial awards 2021-2023 before the end of the year.
But Health secretary Dr Osborne Liko said he had not received any letter nor had any meeting with Kebai to clarify what awards he was referring to.
Dr Liko said he had discussed with the PNGNA general secretary Gibson Siune and signed agreements with the association.
He said the key points in the negotiations on the awards included:
- THE outstanding awards;
- PNGNA Saving and Loans Society application; and,
- THE negotiations three weeks ago to have the State (Treasury Department) pay the PNGNA members health insurance premium to the insurance company.
Dr Liko said he had asked Siune to clarify what his president Kebai had been referring to regarding the awards.
He is awaiting a response.
“The remaining outstanding awards and pay adjustments have all been included in the budget in our national health plan and all will be taken care of from January 2022 – not January 2021,” Dr Liko said.
He said the review was signed by the PNGNA, Department of Personnel Management (DPM) and Health Department in May this year.
“This is to the best of my knowledge what the State (Health Department, DPM, Finance and Treasury) have done to the PNGNA awards,” he said.
Dr Liko said Kebai’s claims were confusing as he could have been referring to awards that had been adjusted through a memorandum of agreement signed in August 2020, for awards to be implemented from January 2021 to January 2022.
“There is no need for sit-in protest,” Dr Liko said.
“I have not been advised whether the sit-in protest has had the formal approval of the Industrial Registrar.”
He said the chief executive officers of most of the provincial health authorities had assured him that their nurses would not be part of the sit-in protest called by Kebai.