The challenges facing Ghana’s economy are creating turmoil on the labour front as workers demand an increase in remuneration.
Recent rapid increases in the price of commodities are fueling agitations from labour unions who are asking for a corresponding increase in salaries and other conditions of service.
This has led to a declaration of war by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for a 19% increase in the minimum wage and about a 20% increase in salary for public sector workers.
“We are going to make sure that minimum wage for workers for this year should not be below inflation, and this would be extended to public sector workers as well, so there is a battle ahead of us, and I can see organised labour is ready to fight and we are going to do that,” declared Dr. Yaw Baah, Secretary-General of TUC last Thursday.
The declaration came ahead of the commencement of today’s meeting of the Tripartite Committee, made up of government, organized labour, and employers, which negotiates annual salary adjustment.
But the Ghana Employers Association has hinted that employers cannot afford a high pay increase due to the economic downturn that is affecting businesses.
According to the Chief Executive of the Association, Alex Frimpong, businesses would collapse if they are forced to pay higher salaries.
Similarly, Benjamin Arthur, Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has called for a sustainable pay increase and urged organised labour against holding an entrenched position in the negotiations.
But the TUC remains adamant, as its various units, including GNAT, NAGRAT and GMA appear resolute to push for a higher pay rise.
Meanwhile, members of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) are on strike as they lock horns with the government demanding the payment of a controversial Neutrality Allowance the government agreed to offer them.
In the midst of the agitations, labour management expert, Austin Gamey, has called for calm and urged all parties to negotiate the issues and their interests in good faith.