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18.10.2006 NDC News

Our Hands Are Clean - NDC

Our Hands Are Clean - NDC
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The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Tuesday said it has no hand in the current workers industrial action that has hit the nation. The Party in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia said: "The NDC wishes to state that it is not involved in instigating strikes or other industrial unrests.

"We indeed believe that it is an insult to the intelligence of workers for agents of the NPP (New Patriotic Party) to suggest that striking workers are being instigated by the NDC. "While the NDC has maintained a dignified silence and refrained from getting involved in these disputes, it would appear that agents of the NPP Government especially the pro-NPP Media noting their Government's inefficiency in handling these industrial disputes are determined to draw the NDC into the fray.”

The NDC said that responsibility for the current labour unrest ought to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the NPP Government and no attempt should be made by NPP surrogates to draw the NDC into what essentially was a self inflicted injury. It said the labour unrests were a direct outcome of the Government's disregard for the relativities established under the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS).

The NDC recalled that when it was in power in the mid nineties it was faced with a similar spate of strike actions and thus decided to find a long-term solution to the problem and thence commissioned PriceWaterhouse Coopers to advise it on the establishment of a National Wages and Incomes Policy.

Several years on the outcome of this effort was the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS), which was based on the principle of Equal Pay for Equal Work. A feature of the GUSS was the establishment of relativities among the various occupations taking into consideration such factors as length of training, job content and risk.

Implementation of the GUSS began in 1998 and it became the reference point for resolving wage disputes in the country. The NDC said it was against that background that when Health Sector Workers agitated for increased remuneration it decided not to distort the relativities of the GUSS, but rather to pay for extra duties performed outside the eight-hour working day.

This is what came to be known as Additional Duty Hours Allowance (ADHA). The NDC admitted that that subsequently the ADHA was subjected to inflation and abuse and instead of the NPP Government of streamlining its implementation, it 93decided to choose the easy way out by consolidating the ADHA as part of the regular salary of the Health Sector Workers, thereby distorting the existing relativities of the GUSS.

It was, therefore, not unexpected that workers in the same Group (Consultative Forum) such as Teachers, Civil Servants, Judicial Service Workers would begin their own agitation for improved pay. The NDC said it was 'obvious that the NPP is being haunted by phantoms of their own devious actions in the period leading up to 2000, when the NDC was in power, and believe that the NDC might be repaying them in their own coin.'

It said the strike was affecting the whole country and that 93the children suffering as a result of the strike are the children of all Ghanaians; they are neither NPP nor NDC. The NDC urged the Government to enter into immediate negotiation with all striking teachers and to stop hiding behind the Labour Law. It said: 93After all, laws are made for man and not man made for the law.

The NDC said, 'it will direct its Parliamentary Caucus to initiate the necessary processes to seek a debate of the issue including, if necessary a review of the Labour Law'. There are precedents of incomes policies in this country and it was for Government as the largest employer to initiate a forum that would build on existing structures or map out strategies for improving incomes in this country.

The NDC suggested that for a start the Government should curtail some of its frivolous and irresponsible expenditure and plug the massive waste in the system. It said it this were done it would be able to release more money to improve public sector incomes.

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