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Labour surprised at salary increase

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Organised labour Monday January 19, 2009 expressed surprise at the proposed salary increases of between 16.5 and 34 per cent announced by the previous government a day before the current administration was sworn in.

Describing its members as the main stakeholders in any salary negotiations, the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) said the process of a single spine salary structure embarked on by organised labour, employers and the government had not reached completion before the announcement was made.

It claimed that the announcement was also made without any official communication from the government to workers, “who are the primary stakeholders and the ones most affected by the decision”.

These views were expressed at a press conference addressed by the acting General Secretary of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, with the leadership and members of the various unions in attendance.

They included the GTUC and its 17 affiliated national unions, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Civil Servants Association (CSA) and the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA).

The rest were the Judicial Service Staff Association (JUSAG), the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), the Ghana Medical Association and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT).

Dr Baah said public sector salary increases were linked to the single spine salary structure which was also a part of the public sector pay reforms started in 2006.

The single spine salary structure covers all public sector workers under Article 90 of the Constitution of the country.

The workers include the Civil, Judicial, Audit, Education, Parliamentary, Health, Statistical, Fire, Customs, Excise and Preventive, Internal Revenue, Police, Immigration and Legal services, as well as workers in public corporations other than those set up as commercial ventures.

Dr Baah said the issue of salary increases, therefore, had a great potential of undermining the relative peaceful industrial relations in the country.

He raised several questions that needed to be addressed.

For instance, he asked why some salaries should be increased by only 16.5 per cent when inflation in the country currently stood at 18 per cent.

He was of the view that the announced salary increases could well be the consolidation of allowances into basic salaries of some public sector workers on the single spine pay structure, which was part of the pay reforms.

He said if that was the case, then the announced increases were not, in reality, salary increases but just the addition of allowances to workers salaries.

Dr Baah said while organised labour participated fully in the process towards achieving the single spine salary structure to the point where a report was submitted to the government in July 2008, they were not consulted again till the announcement was made by former President J. A. Kufuor on January 6, 2009.

Organised labour, he said, therefore, had no details as to what went into the report after July 2008.

Moreover, the government should have issued a White Paper or a policy document on the single spine structure which would have served as the basis for the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to negotiate with unions.

Dr. Baah said the FWSC, a pay administration institution, had, by the government’s announcement, bee undermined by the government’s unilateral decision to fast-track the single spine salary structure and truncated it in the process.

The process, he said, would have been an opportunity for organised labour to negotiate the minimum wage and the percentage differential across pay points on the single spine salary structure.

These crucial elements, he added, had to be negotiated between the FWSC, acting on a mandate from the government.

He said organised labour was also prepared to partner the relevant ministries and agencies to educate public sector workers on the new pay structure for a smooth implementation, but all that did not happen.

Dr Baah said organised labour had written to the new government of President J. E. A. Mills to meet him and collaborate on the matter to ensure the implementation of a salary structure based on the principle of “equal pay for equal work”.

Source: Daily Graphic

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