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Business News of Friday, 11 April 2014

Source: Graphic Online

TUC assures workers gov’t will back down on wage freeze

The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, has allayed the fears of workers over the government’s decision to freeze the salaries of workers, as there are clear indications that the government is prepared to negotiate.

He said the congress met with the government during the week, during which the TUC presented a proposal to the government for consideration, an indication that the government was backing down on its earlier decision to put a moratorium on salary increases in the country.

Mr Asamoah was reacting to a warning from the Divisional Chairman of the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) branch of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), John Nii Donu Sampah, that the union would not forgive the TUC if it agreed to a freeze on salary increases for this year.

This was at the second quadrennial delegates conference of the union held in Kumasi on the theme: ‘Promoting Quality Vocational Training (NVTI) in Ghana — A master key to poverty reduction and national development’.

Mr Asamoah said inasmuch as workers agreed that the economy of the country was in serious trouble, a freeze on salary increases in the face of an increment in taxes, fuel prices and cost of living “will be unthinkable”.

According to him, the TUC had asked the government for further details on its proposal and “we hope to make some gains”.

“The truth is that the economy is going through some difficulties,” he noted.

The TUC Secretary General noted that the economy needed structural transformation to add value to the raw materials the country produced.

He said being a workers’ association, the TUC was prepared to help the government find solutions to the challenges but warned that it would not sacrifice workers’ welfare in doing so.

He emphasised the importance of vocational training in poverty alleviation and job creation in the country, as was the case in more advanced economies.

He said there was the need to boost vocational training, as “it holds the key to national development”.

Mr Asamoah called on Ghanaians to change their perception of vocational training as the preserve of school dropouts and the academically weak.

“Our quest for industrialisation will remain a mirage if we do not change our mentality,” he said, and called for a national campaign to change that perception about vocational training.

Mr Sampah deplored the neglect of vocational institutes in the country as a clear indication that the country did not put any premium on vocational training.

He said none of the NVTI schools in the country benefitted from the Ghana Education Trust Fund and were not even catered for in the computerised placement of junior high school graduates.

Mr Sampah said not only were the schools neglected; the teachers were also left out when teachers in the Ghana Education Service were given 15 per cent retention allowance on the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), “although we both found ourselves on the same service classification per the SSPP.

The Executive Director of the NVTI, Mr Bismarck Stephen Amponsah, who represented the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, also underscored the importance of vocational training to the development of the country and as a means of equipping the youth with employable skills that would make them self-reliant.

He said until vocational training was given the needed attention and placed at the level it deserved, the country would continue to churn out hundreds of university graduates looking for non-existing jobs.

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