It’s time to pay workers living wages – TUC

By Yaw
Ansah, GNA 

Accra, Sept. 20, GNA – Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo,
the Director of Labour Research and Policy Institute of Trades Union Congress,
Thursday recommended the payment of living wages to workers, saying the minimum
wage does not consider the needs of 
their family members and dependents. 

“A living wage will do a better job of lifting
not only the worker but also his/her family out of poverty, he stated.  “A worker whose earnings allow him/her to
cater for the family will in all probability be more productive than otherwise.”

Dr Otoo said this at a forum, in Accra,
organised by the TUC to release the findings of a research on Minimum Wage
Fixing in Ghana, conducted by the Labour Research and Policy Institute of the

The forum, which was funded by the Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung also sought to solicit input from union leaders for the proposed
review of the Labour Act to protect workers. 

For the minimum wage to sufficiently induce
the desired level of productivity, Dr Otoo recommended that the focus must
change from the individual worker to encompass the family of the worker. 

“It is much higher than the poverty line
because the poverty line is also focused on the individual. From the
perspective of a family, therefore, the minimum wage becomes woefully inadequate
in addressing the poverty concerns of family members,” he noted. 

The minimum wage was also weakened, he said,
by the fact that it was set at a very low level at just about one-fifth of the
economy-wide average wage.

Dr Yaw Baah, the Secretary-General of TUC)
urged the Government to address issues related to the effects of the
International Monetary Fund programme, collapse of banks, dollarization of the
economy,  frequent increases of petroleum
product prices to ensure job security. 

Dr Baah said the wages of workers were
declining in real terms and workers were unable to meet their needs to even
make savings.

“As workers, we need to be paid well to be
able to save towards retirement but that is not the case now because the salary
is small,” he said.

“What is worse is that the Pension’s Act is
not the best as some clauses such as the tier system, is not
protecting workers” interest. 

Dr Baah stated that most of the members
did not have the third tier pension and appealed to the Government to amend the
Pensions Act. 

On the labour front, he
said intra and inter-union disputes were straining relationships
among and within unions and appealed to parties to find lasting solutions to
those problems. 

“The membership of the union is shrinking. In
the year 1990, about 50 per cent of workers in the various organisations were
TUC members but currently, it has reduced to 30 per cent,” he said.

“On the other hand, the sub-unions are growing
in numbers. Before 2003 you could count the number of sub-unions but now the
number is about 144,” he noted. 


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