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Business News of Monday, 11 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Worker productivity issues spark debate

A new dimension has been introduced in the debate on public sector productivity, with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) advocating a total factor productivity as the way to go in any discussions on the matter.

The total factor productivity as explained by it was when all social partners, that is the government as employer, labour and employers, all ensured their roles added to the creation of benefits that could be shared by all in the social relationship of employment.

Productivity of public sector workers has been an issue since the operation of the unitary salary scheme, that is the single spine salary structure.

The issue has become even more pressing with about 70 per cent of government's revenue being used in paying public sector workers, leaving nothing for investment.

President John Dramani Mahama in his speech at the inauguration ceremony of the start of government business at the Flagstaff House on Thursday, February 7, 2012, mentioned worker productivity as an issue to be tackled.

However, the Secretary General of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, in an interview said whenever productivity was raised in the country, fingers were pointed at workers and the obligation placed solely on workers.

He said labour union executives were committed to productivity and always admonished their members to be diligent in their work for more resources to be created for a bigger national cake.

"Because when a big national cake is created, that is only when workers share would be sizeable," Mr Asamoah noted.

"But productivity is not only about labour, with the total productivity factor, the government, employers and workers must all play a part," he continued.

Mr Asamoah said worker productivity was undermined by the lack of tools and resources and cited the labour department, a government agency as a case in point with dilapidated buildings and offices that were poorly furnished.

He said the environment there was in itself not conducive to work and also mentioned the transport system as a great disincentive for workers in the country who had to hustle to and from wok each day under trying circumstances.

"It is about time that we stopped the blame game and with concerted effort, all partners played their roles to ensure maximum benefits" he said.

Mr Asamoah said you could not demand productivity from workers when the employer provided no tools to work, when workers were not treated as part of the effort at wealth and resource creation and when incentives were absent in a work environment.

He reminded all that giving incentives to workers was not only about money, but about giving encouragement, recommending a worker for the extra effort taken and seeking the welfare of the worker.

When that was done, Mr Asamoah added, workers give off their very best for any effort that had their interest covered.

Mr Asamoah said currently some employers were of the view that once workers received their pay they had to sacrifice themselves for any work effort, but that was not so.

He said studies had shown that with participatory management, that is, when mangers sought to manage to bring out the best in people, the output improved.

He said supervision in the public service was also a critical area to be looked at because when workers were not working then their supervisors had to be held responsible for poor administrative and managerial practices that allowed workers not work.

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