Business News of 2014-04-29

Organised Labour raises red flag over minimum wage

Organised labour has warned the demand for increase in minimum wage "could erupt into something different” if government fails to respond by May 1.
Four major unions have declared their resolve to secure a 20 per cent increase in the minimum wage by Thursday.
As pressure mounts on the government, Joy News has learnt an emergency tripartite committee meeting was held on Monday evening in a bid to resolve the matter before workers day on Thursday.
The Trades Union Congress was the first to issue the ultimatum. Now the Ghana Medical Association, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union and the Ghana Federation of Labour are all demanding an immediate increase in the minimum wage and the base pay as they join forces with the TUC.
General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Frank Siribour told Joy News they had no choice but to join the TUC because "we are all affected by the negotiations".
He noted that there have been "several occasions" where planned meetings to discuss the minimum wage had been called off without any tangible reasons.
Dr Siribuor suspects government is dilly-dallying with the issue to buy time and delay the negotiation process.
The leader of the Ghana Federation of Labour Abraham Koomson was hopeful the impasse will be resolved because he believes government is aware of the threat.
He warned “it could erupt into something different” if the matter is not resolved by Thursday.
Leader of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, Solomon Kotei told Joy FM's Top Story on Monday the economic conditions in the country could trigger an uprising akin to the Arab spring.
He cited the spate of armed robbery, other violent acts and the general level of poverty in the country as conditions that could fuel a Tunisia-style uprising.
He urged the government to open negotiation, table its concerns for all parties to arrive at an appropriate figure.
But a labour expert, Senyo Adjabeng has said government and labour should both be blamed for breaching the rules of good faith.
He noted that for government to announce a wage freeze early this year while negotiations were ongoing smacked of bad faith. Also the demand and threats by labour unions are not in tune with the negotiation process.
"The rules of the game have not really been followed [by both parties]," he noted.
But Mr Kotei disagreed with Mr Adjabeng on the score that labour should be blamed for the development. He said the blame should squarely be placed at the door step of the government for the persistent postponement of meetings without giving any good reasons.
Nii Armah Ashitey, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has told Joy News he is very optimistic the tripartite committee will arrive at something meaningful before the Thursday deadline.
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