Business News of 2013-12-27

TUC kicks against proposed freeze on salaries

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed reservations about the decision by the government to freeze increases in the salaries of public sector workers in 2014.

Considering the continuous high cost of living caused by the increment in taxes and utility tariffs, the TUC said it would not agree to the government’s proposal of freezing salary increases.

In an interview with the Secretary-General of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, he said increasing utility tariffs and taxes without corresponding increases in salaries would have devastating consequences on the purchasing power of workers.

From critical examination of the economic scenario in 2014, Mr Asamoah said, it was not too difficult to predict that the coming year would be difficult for workers, in view of the increasing cost of living. He explained that the government had projected 11 per cent of end-to-end inflation next year and, therefore, freezing increment in salaries would mean that indirectly, the current wage, in real terms, would be reduced.

Inasmuch as the TUC appreciated the gargantuan wage bill which had now become an albatross around the neck of the government, Mr Asamoah said wage issues should be managed well to ensure that ghost names were removed from the public sector payroll.

On Wednesday, December 18, this year, the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Tekper, announced in Parliament that the government was considering placing a moratorium on increases in public sector salaries next year. He said any intended increases in salaries of the public sector workers would be frozen if the moratorium was implemented.

On Monday, December 23, this year, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) also announced that tariffs for electricity would go up by 9.73 per cent and water tariffs by 6.80 per cent from January 1.

The combined effect of the freeze of the increases and the implementation of the Automatic Adjustment Formula, which would ensure quarterly increment in the tariffs, Mr Asamoah said, would be detrimental to the working group.

He therefore urged the government to consider its decision to freeze increases in the salaries of workers and rather ensure prudent management of the economy next year to prevent the hardships confronting the country.

Mr Asamoah, however, commended the working groups for their contribution to the growth of the economy despite the numerous challenges they faced this year.

“Obviously 2013 has been a very difficult year for workers in both the private and public sectors,” he stated.

“You deserve better in 2014. But, as recent developments have shown, we cannot achieve our goals without a struggle. It means we have to continue the struggle in the coming year. As we prepare to enter the New Year, we should also reflect on the struggles ahead of us,” he said.