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24.10.2007 General News

Civil servants threaten demonstration over salary deductions


The rank and file of the Civil Servants Association (CSA) are gearing up for a nationwide demonstration to protest against deductions from their salaries at the Controller and Accountant General's Department (CAGD) since April 2007, Mr Smart Chigabatia, Executive Secretary of the CSA, told the GNA on Tuesday.

"Affected members of the CSA have already grouped themselves into the Association of Victims of Unauthorised Deductions (AVUD) and are organising the rank and file to stage their protest if their October 2007 salary slips still reflected the unauthorised deductions," he said.

The "deductions mess", as they call it, included unauthorised and inexplicable salary deductions, over deductions, refusal of the CAGD to pay authorised deductions meant for the welfare schemes for CSA members and non-payment of civil servants dues deducted from source to the CSA accountant.

A typical Government of Ghana Payslip belonging to one civil servant indicated that out of a monthly salary of 800,000 cedis, inexplicable deductions of at least 63,000 cedis had been made and captured as "Tax on Arrears" or "Tax on Arrears Recovery" without any proper explanation from the CAGD.

Additionally, some workers complained of continuous over-deduction of instalments of loans they had finished paying long ago.

Meanwhile some payslips shown to the GNA did not reflect the authorised deductions such as CSA Welfare Fund Contributions, indicating that the CAGD was not making those deductions, which were meant to fund the CSA supplementary Health Insurance Scheme and hire purchase scheme.

Ghana News Agency investigations revealed that nurses, who were not members of the CSA, rather had CSA dues of 100,000 cedis and Ghana Medical Association (GMA) pension fund of over 40,000 cedis deducted from their monthly salaries between June and December 2006.

Investigations also revealed that members of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) were also agitating against deductions of over 60,000 cedis from their monthly salaries as loan repayment.

Mr Chigabatia said since August 2007, the CAGD had deducted CSA dues from source but had refused to deposit the money into the CSA account to help run the association effectively.

"Obviously the Controller and Accountant-General is deliberately frustrating workers because several meetings with him over this issue have led to failed promises on his part," he said.

"We have tried to avoid unrest but it seems they are taking our commitment to dialogue for granted. Now they have to prepare for the inevitable. We cannot hold our members any more," he added.

Mr Chigabatia noted that since the "deduction mess" was discovered in April 2007, the CSA had gone to every extent to use dialogue to seek redress but the CAGD had failed on its several promises to resolve the anomaly.

According to him the CAGD had till date not come up with any tangible explanation as to why they kept making unauthorised deductions but failed to make those they have been authorised to, except to say that the anomaly could have resulted from the change of their computer data system from IPDD1 to IPPD2.

He said the frustration being caused by the deduction was beyond measure given that for the whole of 2007 there had not been any salary increase due to plans to change over from the existing Ghana Universal Salary Scheme to the Single Spine Salary Structure.

Mr Kojo Krakani, Deputy Executive Secretary of the CSA, said currently the CSA welfare account was drained and as a result, Melcom, a major creditor of civil servants, was threatening to take some civil servants to court because there was no money in the welfare account to pay for items they delivered to civil servants.

He said the matter had been duly brought before the Civil Service Council (CSC) and the appropriate government institutions but nobody seemed to listen to workers.

Mr Krakani called on government and the CSC to impress upon the CAG's to treat the matter regarding the deduction with the urgency it deserved to avert the imminent unrest.

"They must stop the unauthorised deductions and over deductions, resume the authorised deductions to help us cushion our workers and also deposit our dues into our account with immediate effect," he said.

Mr Krakani noted that as Ghana crossed over from the existing Ghana Universal Salary Structure to the Single Spine Salary Structure, it was necessary to have a clean salary sheet to prevent industrial unrest.

Officials at the Controller and Accountant General's Department said those mandated to respond to such matters had either travelled, gone out or were in meetings.