Ghana’s minimum wage tango drags on

The expected announcement of the national daily minimum wage (NDMW) at the end of January did not materi­alise, as representatives of labour and the gov­ernment failed to conclude negotiations.

The Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare (MESW), Mr Antwi Boasiako Sekyere, said differing interests by the social partners – organised labour, the government and employers – at the negotiating table had result­ed in the extension of the negotiating period.

While representatives of organised labour on the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) are making a case for “substantial increases” to cush­ion workers against the effects of the 42 per cent increase in utility tariffs in June 2010 and a 30 per cent fuel price hike in January this year, gov­ernment’s representatives on the committee are employing the single digit inflationary figure of 8.5 per cent as its trump card at the negotiating table.

Representatives of organised labour, led by the Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, have laid their proposals before the NTC for consideration and a meeting was convened on January 31, 2010, to discuss their demands.

Mr Sekyere, along with other social partners, had, in the January 18, 2011 issue of the Daily Graphic, emphasised his commitment to finish negotiations and announce the NDMW by the end of January, but negotiations are still ongoing.

On what the government had to offer workers, the Deputy Minister was not definite but explained that the government had consistently, within some years, stabilised prices and brought inflation down, meaning workers would have real value for wages.

The Deputy Secretary General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, was also not definite on what labour had put on the table except to say that its demands were “substantial” and it was resolved to get a percentage increase in the NDMW that would cushion workers against previous utility tariff and fuel price hikes.

Based on practice, the NDMW is also the basis upon which negotiations for the base pay on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) are done.

Dr Baah said after a decision on the NDMW, the next step would be to negotiate the minimum pay on the SSSS, using the NDMW as the base line.

In September 2009, a NDMW of GH¢2.65 was announced, an 18 per cent increase over the previous year’s GH¢2.25.

In January 2010, a GH¢3.11 NDMW was announced, which was a 17 per cent increase over the previous year’s.

Dr Baah conceded that since 2000 there had been progressive decreases in the percentage increases of the NDMW and explained that the main reason had been the drop in inflationary fig­ures over the period.

He added, however, that the drop in inflation figures had not been significant over the years, but that had been factored into the determination of the NDMW.

On whether the social partners had reneged on their duty to their constituents by failing to announce a NDMW by the end of the month as per their commitment, Dr Baah said the practice was for the determining authority to fix it in con­sultation with the social partners.

In Ghana’s case, the social partners negotiat­ed, but the effort had to be driven by the govern­ment, for its speedy and successful completion.

Dr Baah asked labour constituents to keep faith in their leadership as they were fixed in their resolve for labour to be well remunerated to meet fuel price and utility tariff increases.

Source: Daily Graphic

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