Business News of 2014-04-29

Gov’t calms wage negotiation fears

Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) has announced that new minimum wage negotiations will end before the 2014 May Day celebrations.
“The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) wishes to assure workers and the General Public that it is still in negotiations with Social Partners to settle on a mutually acceptable National Daily Minimum Wage (NDMW) and Public Sector Base Pay,” a statement issued by the Public Affairs Unit of the Ministry said.
It added, “We want to state emphatically that negotiations with the relevant stakeholders have reached an advanced stage and we are hopeful that an agreed NDMW and Base Pay would be announced before May Day”.
The 1st of May is celebrated annually as International Labour Day –– a day set aside to commemorate the achievements of workers worldwide.
Ghana’s current Daily Minimum Wage, agreed in April 2013, is 5.24 Ghana cedis. The figure is a17 percent increase over the previous year’s Daily Minimum Wage, which was set at 4.48 Ghana cedis.
Online dictionary, Investopedia, defines the term ‘Minimum Wage’ as: “The minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for performing labor. Minimum wages are typically established by contract or legislation by the government. As such, it is illegal to pay an employee less than the minimum wage.”
On Saturday, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress served notice that ongoing negotiations for a new minimum wage must agree a new deal before May 1, failing which organised labour will advice itself.
“We are sending a strong signal out there,” Mr. Kofi Asamoah said at a symposium organised by the Tema District Council of labour. “We cannot afford this high cost of living with the current wages and salaries.”
In what seems to be a veiled response to the TUC’s stance, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations issued a statement late Monday, in which it said, “The Ministry would like to place on record that, there has been no deadlock in negotiation as being speculated in some quarters.
“As a matter of fact, Government has, at all times, shown great commitment throughout the negotiation process with Stakeholders, Employers and Organized Labour and will therefore ensure that there is mutually acceptable solution by all parties before May Day.”
The Ministry’s statement came hours after a Labour Economist and Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. William Baah-Boateng, advised government and organised labour to resort to dialogue and resolve the prevailing challenges, instead of engaging in a public warfare.
Speaking on Monday’s edition of the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr Baah-Boateng said, “The best way to go around all this is negotiation at the tripartite level. All the parties would come up with their concern; how the hardship is affecting them.” (See: Gov’t, Labour must dialogue – Labour Economist)
Late Monday’s statement by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations appears to share the views expressed by the Labour Economist.
“The Ministry is of the firm belief that dialogue is always the way to go and therefore entreats all parties not to engage in acts that can derail the negotiation process,” it said.
The statement added, “Government would like to urge Organized Labour to remain calm as their Leaders, Government and Employers continue to dialogue on their Minimum Wage and Base Pay.”
On April 1, 2014, Finance Minister, Seth Terpker, restated government’s intension to freeze public sector pay at current levels.
The proposal, he said, was within “the Ho Forum on public sector pay sustainability to reduce the wage bill as a share of tax revenue, from 57 percent in 2013 to 35 percent by 2017”.
The idea, he added, was to, among other things, put Ghana “in compliance with the ECOWAS criterion of wage-to-revenue ratio…”
But, Organised Labour quickly dismissed the proposal in a deluge of official statements issued after the proposal.
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