Ghana: Civil servants’ strike, TUC’s opposition to IMF programme reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – A strike by civil servants and labour unions’ opposition to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic programme being pursued by the government, were some of the stories reported in the Ghanaian media this week.

The Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG), on 27 July began a strike to push demands for a market premium.

After several efforts to resolve the issue and get the civil servants back to work failed, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, threatened to withhold the August salaries of the workers.

The government has been resisting pressure by labour unions for higher wages in this election year, knowing very well that bowing to such pressures in 2012 caused huge disruptions in the economy, whose effects are threatening its ability to win the general elections in December.

Now, after a statement by President John Dramani Mahama, repeating what Mr Iddrisu had been saying – there would be a new market premium (MP) policy in January 2017 based on the assessment and evaluation undertaken by a committee working together with the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) – CLOSSAG appear to be backing down.

“Striking CLOGSAG members will not be paid — Haruna Iddrisu,” was the headline of the Graphic on the threat by the minister.

The Graphic said Mr Iddrisu warned that civil servants who continued with the strike would forfeit their salaries.

Consequently, starting from 9 August, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service would conduct a head count to identify unproductive civil servants who had embarked on the illegal strike, he said.

Mr Iddrisu said: “While the government respects the right of workers to manifest by way of a strike, we are unable to compensate for unproductive work and, accordingly, the Head of the Civil Service and the Head of the Local Government Service have been instructed to conduct roll calls, as the strike has been declared illegal by the National Labour Commission (NLC).”

The minister said while CLOGSAG had made its case eloquently, it could not hold all to ransom and embark on “an action in perpetuity”.

In its first reaction, CLOSSAG described the threat of the minister as breach of employer-employee relationship.

Accra-based radio station Joy FM reported on its website that Mr Edward Acquaye, Public Relations Officer of CLOSSAG, said the conduct of the minister and the National Labour Commission was in "bad faith".

President Mahama, speaking at the 10th Quadrennial Delegates’ Conference of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Kumasi, said that the government could not meet the demand of CLOGSAG for the payment of interim market premium.

In a story under the headline, “We can’t meet CLOGSAG’s demand. It will be considered next year — President,” the Graphic quoted the President as saying "acceding to the request would completely throw off the budget and make useless the sacrifices Ghanaians had made to stabilise the economy".

He appealed to the striking workers to return to work in the interest of the nation.

President Mahama said the government did not intend to overspend the budget in an election year.

“The three-year extended credit facility transcends the election year. Election year over-expenditure has been the bane of our economy.

“I am happy to note that this year, even though it is an election year, expenditure targets are still on track and I intend to stay strictly within the budget and the Appropriations Act as approved by Parliament. And this is why I appeal to CLOGSAG members to return to work,” he said.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times, in a story under the headline, “CLOSSAG backs down on demands”, reported that CLOSSAG had accepted in good faith President Mahama’s assurance that government would meet the demands of its members next year.

“We are rallying around to see how best we can resolve the issue,” Mr Acquaye said, adding that an emergency meeting of the national executive council would be convened to bring finality to the impasse.

“Withdraw from IMF programme, TUC tells govt ...but Prez says programme has stabilised economy,” was the headline of the Graphic on labour’s rejection of the IMF programme.

It reported that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana had asked the government to “take a bold decision” to withdraw from the IMF programme because of its negative impact on the lives of Ghanaians.

It said since the introduction of the three-year programme in 2015, many Ghanaians, including the working class, had continued to get poorer by the day and the situation could become disastrous if the programme was allowed to prevail.

The outgoing Secretary-General of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, speaking at the 10th Quadrennial Delegates’ Conference in Kumasi, said the fallout from the programme included high interest rates, an unstable currency and unstable power supply.

He said in place of the IMF programme, the government should go in for home-grown policies that would stand the chance of turning the nation’s economy around and alleviating poverty.

But, responding to the TUC’s concern, President Mahama said the current IMF programme would be the last one to be entered into by the country.

He said the three-year programme had helped to introduce stability into the economy, adding that many of the key areas of the programme had been implemented successfully.

The President said “despite the world economic downturn, our commitment to exercise prudent expenditure has kept our economy on the path of steady growth”.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 13Aug2016

13 august 2016 06:20:50




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