General News of Thursday, 8 January 2015
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has asked President John Mahama not to sign the amendment to the new Pensions Act into law until the social partners and other stakeholders exhaust consultations on the proposed amendments.
Public Sector workers were provoked by an amendment made by Parliament in the Pension Act stating that, it could lead to a decrease in the payment of the tier one contribution to workers.
Mr. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary-General, described the manner in which Government was pursuing the amendment of the Pensions Act without the social partner’s consultation as “rushed and unilateral.”
“This issue should be the latest centre of struggle around which we galvanise to ensure the realisation of the three-tier pension’s scheme …we have drawn Government’s attention to this fact…”
These were contained in a solidarity message, read on his behalf by Mr. Abu Kuntolu, Executive Secretary of the Health Workers Union, at the Opening of the 12th Quadrennial Delegates’ Congress of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG), in Cape Coast.
It was aimed at reviewing the Association’s activities for the past four years and electing new national officers to steer its affairs for the next four years.
It is being attended by hundreds of delegates from across the country, who cheered heartily when the speech was being read.
Mr. Asamoah also renewed the Union’s support in the struggle against what it described as Government’s attempt to impose a scheme on public sector workers with the implementation of the Pensions Law.
He said the Union had not relented in its drive and support to ensure that the three-tier Pensions Scheme became a reality, and it was struggling for pensions reforms with the objective of enhancing pensions for pensioners.
“The poor living conditions of pensioners, in the country, after dedicated service, should not be lost on us…the three-tier pension scheme should work again…this is a noble objective and nothing should undermine our efforts for improved pensions for pensioners,” he emphasised.
Mr. Asamoah said the Union was disappointed at the Government’s decision to pursue a court resolution of the dispute arising from the imposition and had called on the Government to withdraw the matter from court so it could be dealt with as a labour union relations matter.
He described the objective for the fight for improved pension as noble and urged workers not to allow anything to undermine their efforts in spite of the formative challenges it was facing.
Mr. Asamoah noted that in the era of trades union, pluralism under freedom of association, membership participation in the activities of the union was key to sustaining membership enthusiasm, unity and solidarity.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, stated that the Pensions Reforms were intended to benefit retirees rather than to disadvantage them and so the three-tier pension scheme would become a reality through the collective resolve of all stakeholders.
He urged workers not to allow the initial operational and administrative challenges relating to the management of the tier two to make them despaired into thinking that the three-tier could be a mirage.
He said the Government would continue to respect the Act 766 and all other legislations, which would guarantee respectable retirement benefits to all and acknowledged that the unions were justified in their demand for better services after pension.
The Minister set the records straight that there was no criminal matter in the courts against anyone or organized group of workers, saying, “What Government is seeking to do is to seek proper interpretation of sections of Act 766?.
He said the Government was doing so in the view of bringing to an end the issue of who had the right to manage the pension, and the Government would respect the ruling of the court.
“It is only fair and proper that the independent arbiter of the competent court is respected,” he said.
Mr. Iddrisu called on labour unions to be guided by the substance of the amendment, which would benefit them instead of by its form.
The Chairman of Civil Service Council, Dr. Robert Dodoo, stated that for labour unions to win public sympathy, they should be seen to be committed to increasing productivity, maintaining discipline, and enhancing efficiency.
He called for dialogue and mutual respect between the employer and the employee; strict adherence to national and international labour laws and constant interactions in a free, fair and transparent manner.
The Chairman, however, stated that dialogue should not be translated into weakness and dormancy but respect for what it could bring to the labour front.
He called on labour unions to have united front to make a positive impact on negotiations and in their search for better and improved service conditions.