The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) says it is wrong for organised labour to issue threats and an ultimatum at a time when negotiations between it and other stakeholders are ongoing and have not broken down. In addition, the GFL has called on the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to treat the minimum wage adjustments as a separate issue from salary and wage rationalisation arising out of the hikes in the ex-pump prices of petroleum products.
Mr Abraham Koomson, the Secretary-General of the GFL, was commenting on the statement issued by the Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL) in which it has given the government up to today to increase the minimum wage by 100 per cent or face the wrath of workers. Mr Koomson stressed that because negotiations have just begun, ''it will be premature for organised labour to resort to threats and coercion to pursue its agenda. ''Such a posture would seriously undermine the process of collective negotiations,'' he added.
The GFL, he said, is of the opinion that in determining the national minimum wage, various factors have to be considered and, therefore, suggested that discussions on the matter should be suspended until the 2003 Budget Statement has been read.
In the interim, Mr Koomson said, the GFL maintains that the government must be compelled to direct employers and unions to go to the negotiating table to evoke the wage opener clause, whether or not their Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) are due for negotiations, in view of the increases in fuel prices.
''What will happen if the national minimum wage is agreed upon before the 2003 budget is read and the package necessitates a further increase in the minimum wage? Do we then go back and re-negotiate another minimum wage? Mr Koomson asked.
The GFL drew the attention of the TUC and TDCL to the fact that even if the current minimum wage of ?7,150 is increased by 100 per cent as being demanded by the TDCL, the majority of workers are already earning more than the ?14,300 which the anticipated increase will work up to.
''Any upward adjustment in salaries and wages as a result of the fuel price increase should cut across the board and not be limited to the minimum wage which would not apply to all categories of workers,'' he added. Mr Koomson also reminded organised labour that it has a responsibility to assist in the resuscitation of the national economy and urged it not to engage in any activity that will jeopardise efforts at injecting some sanity into the economy.