Agitations are soaring as president Nana Akufo-Addo comes under fire for the low base pay increments for public sector workers for 2021 and 2022.
Osman Ayariga, a youth activist and a communication team member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has justified the agitations of the labour unions, saying the Akufo-Addo government has been insensitive to the plights of workers in the country.
He said the 4% increment of the National Daily Minimum Wage to ¢12.53, which is a 6% increment on the 2020 figure of ¢11.82 is unacceptable.
Speaking on Morning Update, Ayariga said President Akufo-Addo has been so insensitive to the plights of workers because he saw the need to increase his salary by over 75 per cent.
“This is the case that this year there has been an increment of a paltry percentage of 4%. This is the first time and this is the lowest of its kind for you to just increase it by just 4%,” he added.
He continued, “In 2016, there was a 10% increment in the labour front; in 2015, it was 10%, in 2012 it went up to18%, in 203 it was 11% and 2014, it was 14.5%.”
Ayariga wondered why the government will increase salaries by a “paltry” 4% when the cost of goods and services had gone up under the Akufo-Addo government.
He lamented the incessant fuel hikes in the last 6 months, stressing that the situation had made life very tough for the youth who constitute a greater percentage of the country’s human capital.
There has been anger among the labour unions after the conclusion of negotiations on the determination of the National Daily Minimum Wage.
Several labour unions, including three teacher unions, expressed dissatisfaction with the announced base pay increment.
The unions; Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT), have been calling for a review amid anger.
Calls for Calm
But the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged unions upset with the base pay increments for public sector workers for 2021 and 2022 to exercise restraint.
At a press conference by Organised Labour on July 26, 2021, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Dr. Yaw Baah, said the base pay increase of 4 percent for 2021 and 7 percent for 2022 could have been worse.
“The outcome was not what we had expected, but it could have been worse, given the economic challenges and the stance of government toward pay rise, particularly in 2021,” Dr. Baah said.
But Dr. Baah said, aside from the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, TUC feared that further increases might lead to redundancy in the public service.
“We had to avoid redundancy, by all means, because of the negative social and economic effects of the mass redundancies we witnessed in the 1990s, as part of the structural adjustment programme,” he explained.
The TUC, which negotiated with the government as part of organised labour, was able to ensure that, within the next two years, the government shall not declare any public sector worker redundant.
They also agreed that the government shall not freeze employment in the public service, all workers must be vaccinated against Covid-19 during the next two years and that government will pay social security contributions regularly.