Business News of 2014-04-14

Minimum wage negotiations in limbo

Negotiations on the national daily minimum wage have ended abruptly without any concrete decision as labour rejected employers’ offer of 2.5 percent.
The committee comprising government, organised labour and employers met on February 21, 2014 following workers agitations for improved service conditions.
At that meeting, labour made a strong case for the daily minimum wage to be increased by 20 percent.
Although last year the daily minimum wage was increased by 17 per cent from GHc4.48 pesewas to GHc5.24 pesewas, organized labour has justified its demand for another increase citing the upward adjustment of utility tariffs and the increase in the inflation rate.
At a meeting held on March 12, 2014, employers offered only a 2.5 percent increase in the national daily minimum wage. They cited the high operational costs and government’s proposal to freeze public sector wage increments as their main reasons.
Labour rejected the offer, prompting the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Nii Armah Ashitey, who chairs the committee to adjourn the negotiations.
Business Dav Ghana has learnt that the National Tripartite committee has not met since the meeting was adjourned.
A member of the committee who spoke to Business Day Ghana on condition of anonymity said the Employment Minister has since been out of the country for some international assignments.
The source who is not happy about the development said government is taking organized labour for granted because of divisions within the leadership.
"For about a month now, we have not met. I called the ministry they said the Minister has travelled again. How can that happen? But we must blame ourselves. If we are organized, they cannot adjourn discussions on the minimum wage sine die. As I speak I don’t know when we are meeting again. This is unusual because if the minister has to travel, organized labour must be informed because we adjourned the meeting with the understanding that we are meeting in the next three days. And nothing has happened since then, he lamented.”
The source said this will affect negotiations on the base pay and other conditions of service. The anonymous member of the National Tripartite Committee fears this could spark agitations during the impending May Day Celebrations.
"It will affect other negotiations. The understanding was that, we have to determine the minimum wage to be used as the basis for the other negotiations. This is the fourth month that we have entered. May Day is coming and I am praying that nothing happens on the May Day. Because we have nothing, we have no message for our members. And they can use that platform to do whatever they want to do."
Last week Seth Terkper, the Finance and Economic Planning Minister announced that the negotiations for upward review of the Base Pay have commenced under the auspices of the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee. It marks the end of the five-year implementation cycle for the Single Spine Pay Policy (SPSS), which commenced in 2010.
Source: Business Day
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