Labour unrests -Any way out?
The country’s labour front has, for the past years, been bedevilled with numerous unrests by workers who want higher salaries and better conditions of service.
From the beginning of the year, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), the Federation of Universities Senior Staff Association (FUSSAG), pharmaceutical workers, among others, have gone on strike at different times.
Despite the introduction of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) which has increased the salaries of most public and civil servants in the country, the issue of strikes has not abated. The strikes have been precipitated mainly by the migration of workers onto the SSSS.
While some workers have complained about their placement on the SSSS, others have raised issues over the payment of market premium arrears. It has taken the intervention of the President, sometimes, to resolve some of the sticky points, while some of the issues have been resolved in the court or at the National Labour Commission (NLC).
Sharing his perspectives on labour agitations, a labour expert and consultant, Mr Austin Gamey, classified labour agitation into three categories.
The first is political strikes, where people try to impress on the government to take a particular decision in their favour. The second is the negotiable labour agitation which has the NLC as the arbitrator, and lastly negotiated wages but where the employer has no money to pay.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview, Mr Gamey said effective communication between employers and employees could solve the cases of labour unrest.
Although, he said, the issue of indiscipline was a major cause of strikes among workers, as they did not use the right channels to solve their grievances.
Mr Gamey also said there was the need for those in charge of looking after workers’ remuneration to also do their work well.
At the weekend, the Presidential Advisor on National Security, Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo Mensah (retd), also waded into the issue of labour unrests in the country, saying that the many strikes on the labour front were a sign of high level indiscipline in the country
The National Security Advisor, who took a swipe at workers in the country who he said consistently used strikes to get their concerns addressed, was quoted as saying: ‘Every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up and is calling for a strike. If you don’t want the job, Ghana is not a police state, take your passport and get out of this country.’
Brig-Gen General Nunoo-Mensah, who said until Ghanaians learned to sacrifice for the nation, Ghana would never develop, among other things, called on people who could not be patriotic enough to get out of the country so that those who could would build a better Ghana.
However, his remarks did not go down well with labour groups which condemned his comments, saying his statement was rather ‘indiscipline’.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, asked the Security Advisor to rather ‘contribute to find solutions to the problems leading to the numerous labour agitations in the country, instead of just insulting workers’.
Mr Asamoah, who said strikes were lawful, provided workers went through the processes in the Labour Law, said there was the need to find out exactly what the problem was, instead of asking workers to ‘leave the country if the kitchen is hot’.
The Civil and Local Government Staff Association (CLOGSAG) and other labour unions, as well as politicians, have also expressed diverse opinions on what the Brigadier General said at the weekend.
By Rebecca Quaicoe-Duho/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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