By Dr Shadrach Dare
It is common here in the UK that when you are applying for a job, you fill a form that includes your Education and Employment history. In addition to these, you may be asked your previous salary [in pounds] in those previous employments.
A Ghanaian friend of mine once applied for a post as a Nurse in the UK and was asked about her previous salary.
She converted her salary and it was £48 [GH₵500 at the time]. [She worked in a private clinic I will not name here]. So the recruiting agent thought she did not understand the question.
‘You are expected to write your monthly salary, not the daily wage’, he queried. ‘Thats my monthly salary, Sir’, she responded. So the recruiter thought she may have missed some zeros, but she explained that she was not underestimating her salary.
Long story short, she got the job and its been since a life changer and has since been encouraging her friends to move out of Ghana.
We live in a competitive global society, and people are always looking for better opportunities. Yet I have met many nurses who genuinely want to live in Ghana and better the society despite the dire working conditions and low salaries. I have tried persuading some friends to relocate to the UK or US but they are passionately stubborn to remain in Ghana.
Regardless of one’s boundless enthusiasm and passion, it seems that it gets to a point where passion alone is not enough to feed your family. Even so, passion, without appropriate renumeration could turn to hate. And it seems that is where we are as a society.
The Ghanaian nurse, like many other civil servants, have seen a government fatten itself even during a pandemic, and continues to make excuses whenever workers ask for a reasonable raise.
Inflation as at last month was about 25% and this month it is 30%! Nurses are poorer today despite all their hardwork- especially in the recent pandemic. The inequality in salaries between civil servants and public office holders is an entirely different topic.
Nurses, together with other health professionals, have threatened to strike- and rightly so- demanding a cost of living allowance that reflects current circumstances.
I support these actions and call on the government to sit with these health bodies, and other striking unions, to find reasonable solutions.
Government should also be seen to do more to curb corruption, needless spending, and social actions that seek to alleviate poverty and improve quality of life. There is enough stress in the system and any disruption to health services could be catastrophic.