The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is predicting that Ghana’s economic challenges will worsen if the government carries out its threat of retrenchment due to the constant demand for wage increment for public sector workers.
“If they [government] make an attempt to carry out a retrenchment, this country is going to sink deeper and it will sink deeper to a point where we cannot control the social upheaval,” Edward Kareweh, a leading member of the TUC has said.
Last week, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, warned public sector workers of possible job cuts if demand for wage increment persists.
He urged them to increase productivity and show extra commitment towards their jobs to boost government’s efforts at strengthening the economy.
The Mahama-led government has announced it intends to introduce a policy to freeze wage increases in the face of a failing economic situation; a decision the TUC vehemently opposed.
According to government, the huge public sector wage bill through the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) is putting a strain on government coffers and increasing expenditure.
Minister of State in charge of Allied Financial Institutions, Fiifi Kwetey, in a media interview last month revealed, about 70 percent of tax revenue is used in the payment of salaries.
Politicians and economic experts are divided over whether or not to cease the implementation of the SSSS because government does not have the revenue to continue with its implementation.
With a heated debate on the SSSS, public sector workers have been accused of unproductivity, laziness, bribery and corruption, poor attitude towards work, lateness among others.
Their frequent calls for salary adjustments are always met with mixed responses from government and sections of the general public, as some believe their productivity is not deserving of salary increments.
But Mr. Kareweh cautioned government to stop blaming workers for the various economic challenges the nation is saddled with.
According to him, government is “running a chaotic system” because it has not put in place the necessary structures to track productivity and ensure value for money.
He stressed that the widely held perception about public sector workers are being lazy is unfounded, adding that, the workers are a reflection of their leaders.
Speaking on Citi FM’s The Big Issue, Mr. Kareweh said: “Sometimes when they talk about productivity and the rest, I just don’t understand them. Where are they coming from?”
“You are to report to work at 8 o’clock; workers do not come, supervisors are there, managers are there, they keep quiet so why do you blame the worker? Ministers attend meetings late, managers attend meetings late, directors attend meetings late…what our leaders leave behind is what we are picking,” he added.
He however admitted some lazy and unproductive workers can be found in the public sector but was quick to note that if the required tools were available to aid their work, most of such workers would change their attitude towards work.