The fourth republic of Ghana is being characterized by the menace of industrial actions. The first question that comes to mind anytime there is one industrial action or the other popularly known in the Ghanaian parlance as “strike action” is “what really is the meaning of the single spine salary structure?”.
Does those agitating for the single spine salary structure really understand what it means? Do they deserve the salary grade they are agitating for based on a thorough evaluation of their jobs? Is it in the greater good of the Ghanaian society to bear the cost of this single spine salary structure?
The meaning I come up with anytime I think through this policy is the fairness is to bring among the working populace of the country. But what do we see and hear about this policy, its either one working class is embarking on an industrial action, holding one press conference or another in an attempt to lay out their dissatisfaction about the policy.
The principles of the single spine structure which should be put into brochures for everyone to read are;
• Internal equity of the salaries levels.
• External competitiveness between the public and private sector jobs.
• Employees’ contribution to productivity and performance
• Transparency in the administration of the structure
• Affordability of the new salaries for the country
• Understandability of the structure.
• Flexibility of the structure
• Sufficiently decompressed to recognize and compensate for the difference in job content from the highest to the lowest levels in the structure.
The basic ideology for the payment and increment of salary is that the employer would only be assured of paying a meaningful salary if the employee produces ten parts of his or her salary. Here lies the case that Ghanaian public sector workers’ productivity levels are so low and yet they cry out for increment in salaries with no commitments to increasing productivity. Another issue is the cost of migrating everyone onto the structure will cost 1.62% of the entire payroll of the public sector including the health sector, and if the health sector is to be excluded the entire cost will be 1.30%. The productivity levels of all these jobs in the public sector will not guarantee the payment of these huge cost.
With enough blame game going to the agitating working populace, let’s concentrate on the policy drafters and makers in their contribution to this menace that has found its way into our working civil society. I really don’t know why it is that, after the policy has been perfectly laid out and there are misunderstandings and discrepancies with its implementation, these same policy makers are not at the salary negotiation and arbitration tables to give an in-depth clarification of how things are supposed to be. Are things different because of the political affiliations at the time of making this policy or should it be seen as they being non-patriotic Ghanaians or just that they are not committed their nation state?
The ideal road map for the rolling out this controversial single spine was first, the establishment of a fair and standard job evaluation performance criteria, a fair wages commission, then, the rolling out of the single spine structure in the public sector. Unfortunately the policy statement went the other way round with the fair wages being first established followed up by the others. This notwithstanding the second and third steps were well rolled out with the deficiency emanating from the major component which is the job evaluation criteria which has brought this monster that has come to stay until a better weapon is devised to kill it but until then what’s the fate of the poor populace who make up the country when these elites classes who are to serve them “civil servants” untimely decide to embark on industrial action which has come to stay among them.
Most importantly, what these agitating workers should know is that the single spine salary structure is supposed to bring equity and fairness into the salary payment structure which the government of Ghana is committed to doing. The equity and fairness does not necessarily mean that, there should be increment in the salaries of everyone, this is what we need to reconcile with anytime we want to think of going on an industrial action over the single spine salary structure.