Business News of 2014-02-13

Labour unions call for talks on daily minimum wage

Labour unions have asked the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately reconvene a meeting of the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) for negotiations on the national daily minimum wage (NDMW) to begin. The request was made at a meeting of the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee (PSJSNC), the apex decision-making body on issues of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).

NDMW for negotiations on SSSS

The conclusion of negotiations on the NDMW will pave the way for negotiations on the SSPP because, by convention, the NDMW is the basis for negotiations on the base pay of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS). The PSJSNC is made up of representatives of government agencies responsible for labour and employment issues, on the one hand, and labour unions and associations, on the other.

Workers also suffering

Representatives of labour unions at the meeting impressed upon the government that their constituents were suffering under the general increases in utility, fuel and commodity prices.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Baah, who spoke to the Daily Graphic after the meeting, was upbeat about the future, saying, “If future negotiations go the way things went today, there will be peace on the labour front this year.”

He said the meeting, which started about 10 a.m. with parties on guard, ended about 3 p.m. with all parties in a cordial mood.

Government will propose, not impose

The meeting was attended by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper; the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Nii Armah Ashietey, and his Deputy, Mr Antwi Boasiako-Sekyere.

Dr Baah said Mr Terkper declared at the meeting that although the economy was facing some challenges, the government “will not impose anything on labour but only propose for parties to the negotiation”. He described the statement by the minister as positive and added that if that stance was adhered to, negotiations in relation to the SSPP would be smooth.

No moratorium on salaries

He said labour unions were all in agreement that no moratorium on their salaries would be considered. He said workers could not accept a moratorium when inflation was now 13.5 per cent, instead of the projection of single digit inflation, and when there had been hikes in fuel prices and utility tariffs.

Consider workers’ budgets

The General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Frank Serebour, who was also at the meeting, said the government and its agencies in charge of the economy had been impressed upon not only to concentrate on the challenges of the national budget but also pay attention to the individual budgets of workers, which have been badly hit by inflation, utility tariff hikes and fuel increases.

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