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28.09.2004 Feature Article

Hard Times Bite Further

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Parents are at pains coping with the nightmare of paying school fees and buying the necessary stationery for their wards and children now that schools are reopening all over the country and the class changing season is with us.

These are indeed not peaceful days for many Ghanaians because the real income has suffered a phenomenal depletion as a result of rising prices occasioned by inflation.

The 3000 civilian strong-force working for the Ghana Police Service in various categories suffering from the unsavoury economic conditions in the country and what they perceive as an uncaring attitude of their employers, are threatening to lay down their tools and embark on a protest march to the Police Headquarters as a way of bringing pressure to bear on their superiors to look into their plight.

Most of these personnel are artisans in various grades of the civilian employee structure of the service and their beef is that they are working under humiliating conditions. Commenting on the plight of the civilians and their threat, a superior police officer who asked for anonymity, revealed that negotiations are underway between the Police authorities and the Prices and Incomes Board to determine an acceptable structure for civilian employees in the Police Service.

As we write the regional branches of the Civilian Staff Association are networking on how to execute their intended action. Some executive members of the Civilian Staff Association from the regions have complained about how it has become exceedingly difficult for them to meet their parental obligations. One of them said "our salaries are so low that we are unable to maintain our families let alone pay school fees. We are going to speak the language they understand. Not even the Inspector General of Police can stop us."

Our investigations have revealed that, an artisan of five years standing with the service is paid a gross salary of C450,000 monthly while a labourer with the same length of service is paid just C250,000. The issue of inadequate salaries for Ghanaian workers has been a problem for a long time now, yet no government has been able to tackle it exhaustively. There have been occasional utterances from organized labour on the plight of the Ghanaian worker yet not much has been registered in terms of a way out.

The Police, like their military counterparts have civilians working for them in various capacities. Some civilians can be found in both the Police and Military hospitals and other appendages of these establishments rendering valuable services; yet when their uniformed counterparts are being considered for pay rises they are left behind to continue wallowing in penury.

It is generally held by many that it is only in the private sector that the Ghanaian worker is being exploited by his or her employer, especially where unionisation is forbidden or at best, frustrated.

The report about the over 200 workers of the Plant Pool who have not been paid their salaries since February this year is a case in point about how things can be bad in certain public institutions. For a system which is encouraging parents to send their kids to school, such an unsavoury development leaves much to be desired, especially when the payment of school fees is mandatory on parents.

The near hopelessness of the Plant Pool workers was summed up when one of them pleaded with the media to present their stories so that government can perhaps intervene in their favour. The same can be said about their civilian counterparts in the Police, except however that in their case, (civilian workers in the Police) they have been receiving their scanty salaries regularly albeit these are hardly enough to see them through the month.

Public Agenda
Public Agenda, © 2004

The author has 20 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: PublicAgenda

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