FWSC boss blames strikes on culture of impunity

The Executive Secretary of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has attributed the series of industrial strikes in the public sector to what he says is a “culture of impunity”.

George Smith Graham is unhappy with the procedures adopted by the labour unions, most of which have resulted in industrial strikes by public sector workers.

Ghana’s labour front has been chaotic in recent times. Barely a week after the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) suspended a week-long strike, the University Teachers Association of Ghana has also begun their strike after a meeting with government for a payment plan for the arrears of the 2012 market premium hit a snag.

Doctors as well as Government Pharmacists have also rung the alarm bells for a possible industrial action.

The issue has been a source of worry for government with the Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani becoming the chief negotiator in addressing some of the challenges.

At a forum organised by Joy FM to brainstorm on the current labour agitations in Ghana, the Executive Director of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Dr Smith Graham believes impunity is the root cause of the unrest at the labour front.

He said most of the unions failed to exhaust all the avenues for settlement before deciding to embark on strike.

Describing some of the strike actions by the unions as an act of impunity, Dr Graham said the unions must proceed to the Labour Commission and possibly to the Courts if their grievances are not resolved before embarking on a strike.

Dr Graham also regretted the seeming lack of public education before the full implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

He stated however that the FWSC “has done no wrong” in the implementation of the SSSS.

The forum brought together stakeholders from the labour front, including officials from the National Labour Commission, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU), the Ghana Medical Association, (GMA) as well as officials from the Ministries of Finance and Employment will brainstorm on the issue of labour agitations and find a lasting solution to the problem.

Dr Justice Yamson of the Ghana Medical Association implored government to prioritize labour issues in the country.

He said government must begin to see labour as partners and not as servants.

Dr Anthony Simmons, President of (UTAG) admonished Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to respect the communiqués they sign with the labour unions and also implement the schedule for payment as spelt out in the communique.