As pressure mounts, TUC deflects blame for low 4% pay rise

As pressure mounts, TUC deflects blame for low 4% pay rise
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah

With pressure mounting on organized labour for its poor showing at negotiating a descent pay rise for public sector workers, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr. Yaw Baah, a key player in the negotiations, is now urging workers who are not happy with the 4 per cent increase in their base pay to direct their anger towards government for placing low value on labour.

According to him, organised labour and employees on the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee (PSJSNC) made a strong case for a higher percentage increase in the base pay but their proposals were continuously shot down by government leaving them with little choice but to append their signatures and accept.

Reacting to rising agitations after the announcement that public servants were going to have a 4 and 7 percent base pay increase for 2021 and 2022 –the lowest increment in a decade– Dr. Yaw Baah blamed government for the negative reputation it has for the public sector workers resulting in the 4 percent pay increase.

“Our members have misdirected their actions to us. Your employer has put this value on you, you want to kill the messenger to get it fixed. Let’s say we did not do our work well; do you kill a messenger to solve a problem? Let’s direct our attention properly,” Dr. Baah said.

Speaking at an Organised Labour Economic Dialogue on the Mid-Year Budget Review, Dr. Baah added that: “Let’s say the unions did a bad job but what has your employer done for you? We are not justifying it; we should work hard to get something better, but I think this government’s negative attitude towards their employees is causing this low pay. You can’t place this value on your staff; every year, how much they buy from the previous year’s salary is lower.”

Inflation Base Pay data

Data from the Ghana Statistical Service revealed that, since 2013, the quantum of increment on the base pay year on year has consistently been below the inflation rate.

In 2012 and 2013 the base pay increment was 18 and 10 percent respectively; an 8 percent difference but end of year inflation 11.7.  In 2014, government gave a Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) of 10 percent; end of year inflation was 15.5.

In 2015, 13 percent base pay increment was announced while inflation ended 17.2 percent. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the base pay was increased by 10, 12.5 and 11 percent but inflation ended 17.5, 12.4 and 9.8 percent respectively. In 2019 and 2020, public sector workers enjoyed a 10 percent increase in the base pay but inflation was 7.1 and 9.9 respectively.


Dr. Baah said the inflation data speaks to the fact that, the purchasing power of the worker has been descending since 2013, and that has the ability to affect productivity. “If you do that how can productivity increase? We are human beings, you can’t give me something lower than what you gave me last year, and then come and tell me to work harder than the past year.”

Organised labour unity

He said over the years, organised labour has not been united in the fight for a cause but the development calls for all parties to put their differences aside and fight for workers.

“We have to work to change the attitude of government towards its employees. I have seen too many people in authority saying we pretend to work so they pretend to pay. This has to stop. A cycle like that must be broken. The effort to break it must be a joint effort from workers and government. And that is what social partners should seek to do. Work together to break that cycle of low pay.”

Labour unrest   

Since the base pay for 2021 and 2022 was announced last month, there has been an uproar among labour unions with some labour experts predicting some unrest in the coming days.

Last week, the offices of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana, (CLOGSAG) in the Upper East Region were locked up by workers unhappy with the base pay increase. They blamed their leadership for a poor job.

Already, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and a section of civil servants have expressed extreme dissatisfaction. GNAT President, Philippa Larsen, has said publicly that teachers would ‘rise up’ if the base pay stays this low.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has diplomatically reminded the government of its failure to implement agreed conditions of service. In a letter copied to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), the GMA stated that their members agreed to give the government two months to put in place measures to meet the conditions of service, which includes some arrears and healthcare. Failure of government to do so, doctors will embark on a strike action on Friday, October 1.

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