Parliament yesterday passed a bill which seeks to give hope for better wages and conditions of service for public sector workers.
The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Bill initiated by the government to ensure appropriate reward for work done was laid before Parliament on March 15, 2007.
The bill will also provide a legislative framework aimed at meeting international best practices on the labour market. It will ensure equal pay for equal work and wage increases will be made along the lines of productivity gains.
The Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, moved the motion for the third reading of the bill.
It was introduced in the House against the background of labour unrest resulting in the loss of productive hours, particularly during strikes, and in some cases death when the action involved workers who provided essential services.
Various governments have pursued policies aimed at systematically and effectively eliminating distortions in the grading and classification of public sector wages and salaries for the purpose of ensuring worker satisfaction in the public service.
However, the efforts of successive governments have not yielded the desired results, hence the introduction of the bill to rectify the anomaly and restore order into the pay system of the public service.
In August 2006, the Minister of Public Sector Reforms, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, first announced the setting up of the commission, which he said had become necessary in the wake of workers' agitation for increased salaries and improved conditions of service.
The setting up of the commission, he explained, was part of public sector reforms.
The Fair Wages Commission, as it was then known, was to replace the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS) which had been the structure for salary administration in the country since 1999.
Proposals for the bill were sent jointly by the Ministers of Public Sector Reforms and Manpower Development, Youth and Employment to Cabinet early this month and it was then placed before Parliament.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, told the Daily Graphic this month that the commission would be set up as soon as it received parliamentary endorsement.
This year's budget also made provision for the establishment of the commission for the institution of a comprehensive pay structure in the country.
The report of the Parliamentary Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises on the bill observed that the passage of the bill would be a panacea to the difficulties associated with unco-ordinated salary and wages administration.
The establishment of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission will occasion the cessation of activities of all other agencies which have responsibility for the classification of salaries and negotiation of terms of conditions of public servants.
The Public Service Commission will cede its functions relative to the conditions of service of public servants to the commission.
The report added that once created, the commission “will be fully responsible for ensuring a fair, transparent and systematic implementation of government's public service pay policy.”
Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed optimism that the passage of the bill would curb salary and wage distortions in the public service to ensure industrial harmony for increased productivity.
Meanwhile, the House has approved the proposed formula for the sharing of the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF) for 2007.
This year, the government has allocated ¢1,626,700 billion as common fund for the assemblies.
The MPs expressed a strong desire for the fund to be increased from five per cent to 7.5 per cent of the total national income, since that would give the assemblies enough resources to carry out their developmental programmes more effectively.
They were not happy with the impediments put in their way by district chief executives (DCEs) in accessing their share of the fund and called for measures to eliminate that phenomenon.
Story by Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah