Hourly minimum wage is the answer

Tue, 24 Dec 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Friends, as agitations by organized labour for better remuneration continue to sour the relationship with government/employers, any suggestion aimed at streamlining affairs should be carefully assessed.

That Ghanaian workers have lousy work ethics is not to be disputed by anybody who has carefully monitored the labour scene.

Let it rain at dawn and in the morning and the Ghanaian worker takes a self-appointed vacation from work; let there be a problem with transportation and the Ghanaian worker is happy to play the truant and expect to be paid full-time.

Let the leaders of organized labour (and there are too many labour organizations everywhere in the country!) declare a strike action and the Ghanaian worker happily stays from work for as long as it will take but expect to be paid everything at the end of the month. Even though the Civil Service Act says that any abstention from work for 15 days means an automatic dismissal from work and non-payment of salaries, the situation is not so in Ghana.

That is why we have problems all over the place. Productivity continues to be adversely affected by such negative work ethics. But who cares?

In other countries, workers know that anything by them that infringes laid-down regulations regarding work ethics is heavily frowned on and punished. In some instances, the workers are even DOCKED (their salaries cut short) by the number of days that they refuse to work in pursuit of some grievance.

In the light of this development, I like very much the suggestion by Ben Arthur (a Labour Consultant) that the daily minimum wage policy be scrapped to ensure efficiency and productivity. And i will add discipline and conscientiousness in the habits of mind and work attitude of Ghanaian workers.

According to Mr. Arthur, calculating the salaries of workers on the basis of the daily minimum wage policy and paying them for no work done is counter-productive.

Thus, paying workers on a fixed daily minimum wage schedule might be seen as anachronistic and new measures are needed to ensure that workers get paid only for the period that they actually work.

Instead, an “hourly minimum wage”, which is more efficient in terms of performance appraisal, should be introduced. Of course, there should be a bench mark, meaning that a matrix has to exist to determine how much a worker should be paid an hour; and the worker will be paid only for the period that he/she actually clocks in, does the work for which he/she is employed, and clocks out at the end of the day or shift.

In this sense, overtime will also be paid, based on how much work the worker does on-the-job within the hour.

Mr. Arthur claimed that this measure will lead to attitudinal change on the part of workers. “If you miss an hour of work, you miss your pay,” he stated while speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Monday.

He was commenting on the resignation of IMANI-Ghana Boss, Franklin Cudjoe from the Government’s Committee on the Sustainability of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).

The 16-member taskforce was formed at the end of the labour forum held in Ho in the Volta region in August to among others, find solutions to the various issues confronting labour front. Mr. Cudjoe’s resignation follows an order from the Ministry of Finance for the committee to suspend its work until further notice.

(Source: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2013/December-23rd/scrap-daily-minimum-wage-labour-expert.php)


Good suggestion, Mr. Arthur. There is too much cheating of the state and private employers.

I care less what Franklin Cudjoe adduces to support his decision to resign from that committee; but I can sense an issue of "sitting allowance" at the centre of it all, which the Ministry of Finance's directive threatens. Such people!!

Where I live and work, everything is based on the hour: Come to work late and you are queried and warned. Do it the second time and you face dismissal.

Because workers are paid by the hour, there is much commitment and an attitude to work that raises productivity. No malingering. No lazying about. When caught, you are sent home—and you lose for the day.

You can't even use the employer's time to do your private job---including reading or doing assignments for class!!

Meantime, the bills come every day; so, there is the compulsion for people to look for work and to work for money to pay those bills. In Ghana, unfortunately, it is the exact opposite when workers see their jobs as an entitlement and do anything at all they like on it—calculating lotto numbers and being on the phone for hours unperturbed by anything regarding the work.

We need drastic measures to change the situation for the better. Mr. Arthur's suggestion is worth taking up by the government and leaders of organized labour. Ghana deserves better.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.