Thursday, 28 March 2013

Labour Unrest In Ghana

The recent reported cases of labour unrest in the country must be a source of worry to all Ghanaians as it has the potential to undermine the peace and stability the nation has and continues to enjoy. Anytime a group of workers decide to lay down their tools, in demand for enhanced conditions of service, it becomes difficult to quantify the financial and economic cost to the nation. Reference point is the just ended industrial action by teachers. The cost of the strike to the nation, students and pupils as well as parents cannot be quantified. The timing for the strike which was well calculated by the teachers to coincide with the WASSCE and the Easter Holidays has reduced the number of weeks to be covered for the term to almost three weeks which can never be recovered. TEWU also gave a strong signal to withdraw its services. Meanwhile, the Ghana Medical Association has also indicated that its members will lay down their tools, not forgetting nurses and other auxiliary staff who support healthcare delivery. Government, realizing the ill-effects of industrial actions on the economy decided to introduce the Single Spine Salary Structure to address the problems of unfairness in the labour sector. Ever since the migration started, it appears it is creating more problems than it envisaged solving. The disparities within the wage and salary regimes continue to widen to an unimaginable level more especially, among people with equal academic qualifications who are rendering similar services.

According to the Minister of Finance, the nation’s wages and salaries alone including those of government appointees such as the Presidency, Ministers, and Parliamentarians accounted for over 60 percent of government expenditure and consequently contributed to the budget deficit of about 12 and half percent recorded last year. This is not to mention the election year expenditure. The reasons for the current labour unrest are not farfetched because it is quite strange to see a person with similar academic qualification who enters into politics and receives a fat salary and in less than two years he or she is better off than the same person who is with the public sector and cannot afford to either own a house, live by three square meals a day let alone take proper care for himself and his family. It is no wonder teachers and most professionals are running away to join politics which is now more lucrative than gold mining. Why on earth do we create such huge disparity in a payment structure and continue to cry whenever there unrests by a section who wants to claim what they think they deserve and have been deprived of.

Probably Ghana should learn from the Rwandan example where politics has been made so unattractive that it is only those who are born politicians who venture there. Until these distortions are addressed, no matter the interventions to be adopted whether Single Spine or not, the labour front shall continue to be unstable. The equal work with equal pay must not only be a slogan but a reality that must be seen to be fully implemented.


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