Workers’ plight improving – TUC

•     But ICU disagrees
THE living standards of workers in Ghana has been improving steadily and is expected to be better in the coming years, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana has indicated.
Secretary General of the Union, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, maintained that in spite of the gap between government’s macroeconomic achievements and living standards of Ghanaians, real wages of workers were improving and could get better.

“Real wages of workers have not been encouraging in the past but I can say that in the last three years, since I became Secretary General we have had real wages rising and that basis I can say that workers’ situation is improving,” Dr Baah told this paper in an exclusive interview.
Dr Baah recalled that “we saw a decline in real wages from 2014 until 2017 when inflation went down and pay increases were always above inflation so we assumed a rising trend in real wages again, as was experienced when the Single Spine policy kicked in from 2010.”
Data from the Ghana Statistical average inflation for 2014 was 15.5 per cent while that of 2015 and 2016 were 17.2 and 17.5 per cent respectively. Inflation trended downwards in 2017 averaging 12.4 per cent.
The TUC Boss hoped that the real wage rise will continue while inflation remains low.
Dr Baah recalled that the Union in 2019 negotiated salary increases for 2020 and got 12 per cent for public sector workers and 11 per cent for the minimum wage; with inflation ending 2019 at 7.9 per cent it’s obvious that real wages are beginning to rise and it is a healthy sign that the outlook is good and if it continues then the standard of living should be improving.

TUC on economic management
It will be recalled that in November 2019, the TUC published its comments on the 2020 budget statement, lauding managers of the economy for the strong indicators.
The steady GDP Growth, falling trend in inflation, reduction in the budget deficit, the healthy level of international reserves, strong external balances, a relatively stable Ghana Cedi, etc.
These are remarkable achievements, by any standard, especially if we take into account the recent economic history of Ghana. We commend government for these significant achievements.

Workers struggling to make ends meet-ICU
Contrary to the views of the TUC Secretary General, the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) was of the view that workers could hardly make ends meet, as their incomes were eroded by taxes and inflation.
Secretary General of the ICU, Mr Solomon Kotei told this paper there was a gap between when is reported as inflation and the actual situation on the market.
“The Ghanaian worker has since 2017 not had the expected flexibility and reasonable standard of living.”
According to Mr Kotei, the Ghanaian worker had to contend with multiplicity of indirect taxes including the latest introduction of tax on clothing allowance.
The ICU boss admitted the economy at the macro-level had improved but “when it comes to the bread and butter issues of workers and Ghanaians in general its below expectation.”
Labour expert’s view
Labour consultant and Human Resource Specialist, Mr Senyo Adjabeng agreed the remuneration and general conditions of work of workers had improved lately, but “it can be better.”
He was however of the view that when it came to employment, it was obvious that for the past 10years unemployment had worsened and so the Ghanaian employee could not be said to be better off.
“Between 2017 and 2019 the financial sector reforms resulted in some job losses so it’s obvious that in terms of employment the Ghanaian worker could not be said to be better off,” Mr Adjabeng said.
With conditions of work and remuneration it cannot be said that workers are worse off; we can say it could get better.

Source: Isaac AIDOO,

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