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Opinions of Friday, 16 October 2015

Columnist: thefinderonline.com

Deal swiftly with labour issues

Opinion Opinion

At the beginning of October, this paper published a story from an interview with the Secretary-General of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), Mr Solomon Kotei, in which he voiced the increasing frustration of workers over the deteriorating economic conditions in the country.

According to him, the frustration and pent-up feelings of workers are growing and warned that if the plight of such are not swiftly attended to, “things could burst in our faces.”

“For us in labour, we think gradually, government’s attitude of turning a blind eye to consumers or ordinary workers in the country is pushing the entire working class into a situation where things could burst in our faces,” he said in the interview.

We regret to note that Mr Kotei’s comments have found expression in the predicament of nurses, teachers and other public sector workers whose salaries and allowances have delayed for between 10 months and three years.

Per our interactions with workers, the sad story is that the Ghanaian worker is worse off now than before.

Contractors continue to lament the absence of contracts, a situation which has led many of them to rent out their concrete mixers, trucks and other equipment so as to be able to make ends meet.

With lending rates hitting through the roof, workers who hitherto were taking loans to supplement their meagre incomes have been handicapped. They are highly distressed now than before, because it’s highly unbearable;

Hear them:” our frustrations are growing wider and stronger; we are talking about a time that water and electricity have also gone up but our incomes have seen no increment.”

It is on the score of the above that we make a passionate appeal to government to treat issues on labour with utmost dispatch.

We find it quite distressing that workers will apply themselves to their duties, some for as long as three years but the employer (government) fails to pay them.
The back and forth involving the salaries of the psychiatric nurses earned government a bad name when the nurses accused it of indulging in deceit.

They may not be justified in their description however they cannot be blamed.
It will be recalled that on October 1, nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital went on an indefinite strike over unpaid salaries.

It is interesting that to get the nurses to return to work government assured them of payment within two months but it failed to materialize, leading the nurses to conclude that government was playing tricks on them.

The NAGRAT saga is yet another regrettable development.

We are not unaware that government has explained the reasons for the delays and given assurances of payment, however we want to caution that care is taken in the recruitment of public sector workers to avert the reoccurrence of such challenges.
Let’s deal swiftly with the concerns of the Ghanaian worker.