Secretary-General of Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr. Yaw Baah speaking at the 2022 National May Day parade at the Black Star Square in Accra observed that ordinarily, all workers should be happy on May Day but unfortunately, that is not the case today because of the hardships workers and their families have had to endure, especially in the last two years or so.
“Minimum wage earners are currently receiving GH₵13.53 a day or GH₵365 per month (which is below the US$1.9 dollars-a-day International Poverty Line at the current exchange rate)”.
He added that in recent months, salaries have lost over a third of their real value as prices of essential commodities, including food and fuel, continue to increase on daily basis. “Between January and March this year, fuel prices increased by over 50%. A litre of petrol is now selling at over GH₵10”.
Consequently, the TUC called on government to suspend all taxes and levies on petrol, diesel, LPG, and Kerosene until the international price of crude oil and the value of the cedi are stabilized. The TUC added that the 15 pesewas reduction offered by government is not enough.
“Suspending all taxes and levies on fuel products in these challenging times will also demonstrate to Ghanaians that our government really cares and it is sensitive to the plight of the good people of Ghana”.
“Given the negative effects of higher fuel prices on standard of living, we once again urge government to consider reviewing the method for fuel pricing because the current method is unfair to consumers”.
Dr. Yaw Baah also noted that the rapid depreciation of the Ghana Cedi is also feeding into inflation.
“In July 2021, when we were negotiating national minimum wage and public sector pay for 2021 and 2022, inflation was 9%.
In March, 2022, inflation was 19.4%. Between March, 2021 and March, 2022, food prices increased by 22.4%, on average. Prices of some essential commodities increased by higher rates.
For example, the price of water increased by 27.1%; price of cereals and cereal products increased by 25%; price of meat increased by 20.2%; prices of fish and other seafood increased by 23.7%; price of oils increased by 28.2%; prices of fruits increased by 22.1%; and the prices of vegetables, tubers, plantains increased by 23.8%”.
The TUC Secretary-General added that many workers and their families have fallen into poverty and that, if nothing is done about this situation many more workers and their families will suffer severe poverty in the coming months.
“This is the time salaries in both the private and public sectors must be indexed to inflation in order to avoid worsening living standards among workers and their families. This is the time Ghanaian workers must be paid a living wage”.
On the agreement that that the Single Spine Pay Policy should be reviewed, Dr. Baah stated that the TUC expects the committee to address the key challenges that have hindered effective implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy.
“The first challenge has to do with the low levels of pay for workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure. Some public sector workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure are currently receiving salaries as low as GHS415 per month. This is woefully inadequate for any meaningful life in these difficult times”.
One of the main objectives of the Single Spine Pay Policy was to ensure fairness in the reward system in the public service, he noted, but after twelve years of implementation of the policy, pay differentials in the public service has worsened.
“We now have a situation where junior officers in some public service institutions who are not on the Single Spine Salary Structure, earn much higher salaries than senior officers on the structure”.
He also added that in 2021 and 2022 when public sector workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure were offered 4% and 7% pay increments respectively, some state-owned enterprises awarded themselves over 25 percent salary increase, even though their salaries are much higher than workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure.
“On this special day, May Day, we call on President Akufo-Addo to ensure that the reward system in the entire public sector, including emoluments for Article 71 office holders and top management of state-owned enterprises, is totally overhauled”.
The low level of salaries and the pay inequalities have very serious implications for workers not only when they are in active service but also when they retire, he noted.