A cardinal principle of the government’s new pay policy – “not to make workers worse off” – was violated when some workers of Ghana News Agency were paid less than their previous salaries under the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) in January 2010.
Also the names of some of the workers, including a member of the Management Team, were omitted. The aggrieved workers were very angry and threatened to stop work until the anomaly was rectified.
Those affected included Mr Mukaila Seidu, Principal Plumber and Acting Estate Officer, who was paid GH¢313. 50 in January 2011 compared to the GH¢344.83 he received in December 2010.
Another worker, Solomon Tetteh said: “I can’t believe it. My old pay is better than the single spine pay. I have been cheated by over GH¢50 by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, adding;” My old poor pay is better Mr President,” referring to President John Evans Atta Mills.
Mr Kissi Yeboah; an Editor at the Home Desk said: “I don’t think this is the single spine the government promised. I can’t have that meagre increase in my salary and call it a new pay structure. This for me is not the single spine I expected”.
He claimed that, an Editor, who is four steps behind him in the Agency on the same rank, received a higher salary than him under the SSSS. “How can these happen?” He asked.
Nana Asamoah-Asare, a Chief Reporter, who expressed utter disbelief asked; “How can a senior secondary school graduate earn more than a degree holder under the SSSS?”
According to him, the explanation that these levels would change in the course of time was untenable since “other Ghanaians in other public sector institutions are better off under the structure though they are not as sensitive and strategic in maintaining national stability and cohesion as the GNA.”
Mr Rex Annan, Administrative Manager, said: “Instead of making people better off, the spine has rather made people in GNA worse off,” adding, “this is strange. My name is not even on the single spine pay roll. I don’t know why. You are working on only 200 people and then you make such mistakes. How can that be?”
A cursory glance at a copy of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission’s Mapping Form for the GNA from the existing salary structure to the SSSS showed that more than 20 workers were paid salaries far lower than what they received in December 2010. While some staff have their January salaries reduced by about GH¢50, others saw more than GH¢100 reduction.
The situation has thrown the workers into a state of worry and shock, especially because of the high expectations they had about the new pay coming to improve their conditions, which has been generally bad because of their low remuneration compared to sister media institutions in the country.
When the GNA contacted Mr George Graham-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, he expressed shock at the situation and indicated that it could be an anomaly because the principle of not making someone worse-off underpinned the pay policy and that could not be compromised.
He explained that the GNA was the second organisation that had reported to the Commission about such a problem and that it might have arisen because a proper test-run was not done to okay the mapping that migrated GNA onto the SSSS.
“Nobody should be made worse off. It should not happen in the first place on the new pay,” Mr Graham-Smith emphasised, and explained that on the mapping form if a worker’s existing salary was seen to be higher than what the single spine has quoted, the difference in the person’s pay should not be deducted but rather he should be made to enjoy the old salary.
Mr Graham-Smith, therefore, called on all public sector institutions that were yet to be migrated on to the SSSS to always ensure that they together with the Controller and Accountant General’s Department performed a thorough test-run before issuing pay slips out or effecting payment of salaries.
On the issue of why some people were not migrated on to the SSSS, he explained, that that anomaly could also have been resolved if a proper test-run were conducted.
“When the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission completes the mapping with an institution, it is the responsibility of that organisation’s human resource personnel or financial team to crosscheck with the Controller to fine-tune the details before the pay slips are issued,” Mr Graham-Smith said.