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 organised by the TUC in Accra, to release the findings of a research on Minimum Wage Fixing in Ghana, conducted by the Labour Research and Policy Institute of the TUC.
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, dollarisation 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.