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21.05.2007 General News

Labour And Pay Reforms

It is significant that the government is taking bold steps to eliminate the distortions in the pay of public servants.

Industrial peace in the public sector has a two-fold benefit — it helps to actualise government programmes and policies and enables government machinery to work as expected from the sector.

Even though concerns have been expressed about excess bureaucracy in the public service, which sometimes mars the progress of work, it is better to have the service than not have it.

In the past there had been some approaches to public service wage administration but those efforts were not comprehensive enough to deal with the issue once and for all.

It is with this understanding that we share the sentiments of Dr Yaw Baah, the Head of the Policy and Research Unit of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the biggest labour organisation, that the union welcomes government's efforts on pay reforms.

There is no earthly reason why anybody should quarrel with a policy aimed at equal pay for equal work. And that is what is expected to prevail in the public service.

Unfortunately, for many decades the human resource base of the public service has not been sufficiently equipped to deal with this critical issue. Meanwhile, tinkering with the issue and applying stop-gap measures do not solve an age-old problem.

Happily, job analyses are going on to determine analogous positions to ensure equity in compensation.

No wonder, Dr Baah said, “I know this time round the government is serious about what it is doing. The approach that has been used in the past failed, but I can foresee good things coming out of these reforms.”

Surely, the setting up of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission was the signal that the government was determined to go all out to deal with the issue.

The beauty of the pay reforms is that all public servants will be placed on a single vertical structure, even though there could be many pay points and increments. By that the disparities in positions and pay which exist today will be eliminated to ensure fairness in the public service.

Perhaps the most significant thing about the reforms is that they have legal backing and so they have legitimacy.

Consequently, all bodies depending on the government purse will have to bargain through one source and that will make for equity and fair play.

It will also end the tendency of one group within the service using its clout to bargain for some pay levels so wide that it compounds the existing distortions.

We know that the benefits from the reforms will be realised if they are implemented with commitment from both stakeholders in the enterprise — employers and employees.

It is our humble submission that players in the pay reforms will play their respective roles to enable the scheme to work.