TUC proposes Presidential Commission on Emoluments

 But Labour Experts disagree

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UNLESS government and its social partners act quickly, Ghana could experience the worst forms of labour unrests and upheavals in history, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana has warned.

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Director of Labour Research and Policy Institute of the TUC, Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, told Business Finder “we see a disaster looming and so are calling for a Presidential Commission to discuss solutions to the crisis on our hands.”
According to Dr Otoo, there was simmering rebellion against the wage disparities and inequities in the public sector which had to be tackled speedily before it got out of hand.

Ghana, he warned was likely to return to the situation where, prior to the introduction of the Single Spine Salary Structure, there were about 100 different salary structures within the public service and “each was negotiating without recourse to the centre, creating huge avoidable distortions.”

The labour front in the country has been heated, with some agitations following a 4 per cent salary increase for 2021 for public sector workers agreed by organised labour with government. Some members of organised labour, unhappy with the outcome of the salary negotiations had charged their leadership to return to the negotiation table.

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) on Monday, August 2 declared a strike, protesting poor conditions of services and have since refused to return to the lecture even after the National Labour Commission (NLC) had secured an interlocutory injunction against the UTAG to restrict its members from continuing with the industrial action.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has also served notice it will lay down its tools in October if government failed to address its concerns.
The TUC’s Dr Otoo “We are likely to return to the same situation, unless we act quickly,” Dr Otoo stated stressing “we need to reinforce the advocacy and make sure government acts in the report but beyond the work of that Committee, we are calling for a Presidential Commission because there is a disaster looming; he way out in the interim is to bring together the best minds on the subject of wages and salaries, not just the expertise but also the history of all salary reviews in the past,”

According to Dr Nyarko, “many challenges have emerged out of the Single Spine Salary Structure and we think that the only way out is to have a Presidential Technical Commission to address holistically not just the challenges with the Single Spine but the problem of wage and remuneration within the entire public service.”

The Commission will have to look at article 71 officer holders and all the other public sector agencies that determine their own pay and are able to pay much higher levels.

According to Dr Nyarko, the UTAG strike “ essentially means they want to leave the SSSS , because if a professor is on say level 24, he is not there alone as a professor, there could be somebody working in the Ministry at par with him; if the lecturers are demanding the equivalent of $2000, it means that demand goes for those who may not lecturers but are at par with them and in a COVID situation that demand cannot be met.”

Labour experts disagree with TUC

Even though he agrees grievances of public sector workers had to be tackled speedily, Labour and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Consultant Senyo Adjabeng vehemently opposed the TUC’s recommendation of the establishment of a Presidential Commission on emoluments.

Mr Adjabeng called on organised labour to refer grievances to the National Tripartite Committee for resolution.
“There is no need for another Commission whether or not Presidential. We have had several commissions in the past whose reports failed to provide the needed solutions,” Mr Senyo intimated.

In 2018, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations set up a Committee to review the entire public sector remuneration system .  According to Dr Otoo, the committee submitted its report by the end of 2019 but no action has been taken on that report.

Mr Alex Frimpong, a labour expert described the proposal from the TUC as misplaced. He told Business Finder the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission should be resourced and empowered to find solutions to the crisis on hand.

Source: Isaac AIDOO || The Finder, ACCRA

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