The Ashanti Regional branch of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has told the government to urgently consider revamping the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to refine petroleum products domestically. This, they argued would insulate the citizenry from the high fuel prices because of exchange rate fluctuations.
Mr. Simon Laarbik, who represented Daniel Amarfo Akwam, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the TUC at this year’s May Day celebration, stated that the workers are feeling the impact of the depreciation of the cedi, not only in terms of its effects on fuel prices but also on the cost of imported food, medicines, and other essential items.
According to him, the rapid depreciation of the Ghana Cedi is also feeding into inflation, adding that, in July 2021, when workers were negotiating national minimum wage and public sector pay for 2021 and 2022, inflation was 9% but as of March 2022, inflation was 19%. He noted that between March 2021 and March 2022, food prices increased by 22.4% on average while prices of some essential commodities also increased at higher rates.
Mr.Laarbik indicated that many workers and their families are feeling the pangs of poverty, and if nothing is done about the situation, many more workers and their families would suffer severe poverty in the coming months.
He contended that this was the time salaries in both private and public sectors were indexed to inflation in order to avoid worsening living standards among workers and their families.
“This is time Ghanaian workers must be paid a living wage, and the government and private sector employers should acknowledge the sacrifices Ghanaian workers have been making, particularly in the last two years, to save the economy from collapse,” Mr.Laarbik stressed.
He underscored that a tripartite technical committee was constituted to review the Single Spine Pay Scheme, and during their last National Labour Conference, they were urged to present their report before the end of June 2022 to ensure that salary increment could be factored into the 2023 National Budget.
According to him, the TUC expects the committee to address the key challenges that have hindered the effective implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy, particularly low levels of pay for workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure.
He regretted that some public sector workers on the Scheme are currently receiving salaries as low as GH¢415.00 per month, which he said was woefully inadequate for employees to enjoy any meaningful life in these difficult times.
Mr. Laarbik disclosed that one of the main objectives of the Scheme was to ensure fairness in the payment system of the public service but that has not been achieved for nearly over 20 years, since the implementation of the policy, rising concerns over pay differentials in the public service.
He bemoaned the situation where junior officers in some service institutions are not put on the Single Spine Salary Structure, yet earn much higher salaries than senior officers on the structure, saying it is a clear indication “workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure are receiving the lowest salaries as compared to their counterparts on other salary structures in the public sector.”
According to him, the highest salary on the Single Spine structure in 2022 is Gh¢7,404 per month whereas some heads of public sector institutions earn more than four times the amount as basic pay, in addition to the numerous cash and non-cash benefits they are enjoying.
He also reiterated the fact that there are some heads of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are earning over three times the salary of the President of the Republic even though some of the SOEs are making huge losses.