General News of Tuesday, 9 April 2013
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, has called for a stakeholders’ meeting to look at the salaries, wages and other conditions of service in the public sector as a way of stemming labour agitation in the country.
He said the way out was for the government to muster the courage to get all public sector workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, Mr Asamoah said the situation where some public sector workers were placed on the SSSS while others were classified as Article 71 public officers could be the main reason for misunderstanding on the labour front.
Members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) laid down their tools just after basic and senior high school teachers assumed work after a one-week strike.
Doctors and pharmacists in public health institutions have declared their intention to begin a nationwide strike from today to back their demand for the payment of their market premium arrears for 2012.
Mr Asamoah said it was difficult to explain how a section of public sector workers was placed on SSSS, while the salaries of others were determined by a committee set up by the President every four years.
“Such a policy is a recipe for disaster,” he added.
He said there would certainly be a problem when the government was reported to have paid GH¢47 million as ex gratia to 230 Members of Parliament but had pleaded with public sector workers to accept payment by instalment.
He described the present labour agitation as disturbing, noting that the TUC had been advising all labour unions to exhaust the grievance procedure before embarking on strikes.
Mr Asamoah made reference to a recent accusation by a labour expert that the TUC was not doing enough and said the practice where labour unions declared strike when all grievance procedures had not been exhausted was the reason for many of the challenges on the labour front.
He expressed worry that most of the professional bodies that had been transferred into labour unions did not put in place the necessary structures to operate as unions because the senior people, including management workers, were part of the union.
He also said another challenge had arisen because of the demand for other allowances by workers, thereby making the work of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) very difficult.
Mr Asamoah said the decision to put all workers on the SSSS was a bold one, as it harmonised salaries in the public sector.
He said another challenge was the fact that most government ministries, departments and agencies did not have well qualified human resource personnel who would lead salary negotiations.
He was of the view that the way out of the apparent confusion was that all workers should be placed on the SSSS.