Business News of 2013-12-23

Scrap daily minimum wage - Labour expert

Labour Consultant, Ben Arthur has advocated the scrapping of the daily minimum wage policy to ensure efficiency and productivity. According to Mr. Arthur, paying workers daily for no work done is counter productive. He suggests the introduction of the "hourly minimum wage" which is more efficient in terms of performance appraisal.

This he said will lead to attitudinal change on the part of workers. "If you miss an hour of work, you miss your pay," he stated while speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Monday. He was commenting on the resignation of IMANI-Ghana Boss, Franklin Cudjoe from the Government’s Committee on the Sustainability of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).

The 16-member taskforce was formed at the end of the labour forum held in Ho in the Volta region in August to among others, find solutions to the various issues confronting labour front. Mr. Cudjoe's resignation follows an order from the Ministry of Finance for the committee to suspend its work until further notice.

It is unclear why the order was given but the Founding President and CEO of policy think tank IMANI-Ghana cited in a "public announcement" Sunday December 22, that; "It may be possible that the Finance Ministry is concerned about compensation, possible retrenchment and unemployment that may result from the sub-committee’s work. However, we had our work cut out as we were guided by the Subvented Agencies Act, Act 706 and in particular by the urgency of reducing the wage bill.

"I consider this intervention as needless; a usurpation of the authority of the Ministry of Employment Labour Relations, will crucially affect the successful completion of the sub-committee’s work and ultimately delay the much needed reforms to reduce the burden of the public workforce on the wage bill," Franklin Cudjoe stated.

But Mr. Ben Arthur considers the directive as connoting that the state sees workers to be more of a "liability than an asset". "We [government] do not have to give any impression to workers as if they are not important.

"What we are missing in this country is that we have failed as a nation to match remuneration with productivity...nobody is supposed to take a pay which is not matched with productivity," he said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Committee, Paul Victor Obeng has rebuffed suggestions that the Finance Ministry has interfered with the work of the committee. Mr. Obeng says he is unaware of any frustration the committee was encountering.

According to him, the Finance Ministry’s intervention will not hamper the committee’s work. Mr. P.V Obeng told host of the Show, Bernard Nasara Saibu that; "I will not be able to tell if they [members of the committee] have been facing frustrations or facing any interference...until I am told by them".

He however applauded the committee for work done so far including the suggestion for some state agencies to be weaned off government support. "The issue of weaning some public institutions that have the capacity to live on their own was one of the issues that came out of the [Ho] conference...and free the pressure ...on public finances.

"Any contribution that reduces the [total] burden on public sector wage bill, will be contributory to the attainment of this goal," he said.