Consultations between the government, labour and employers towards the implementation of the single spine salary scheme in the public sector on Friday kicked off again with a pledge by government to ensure equity in the pay system.
Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who made the pledge, reiterated President John Evans Atta Mills' promise in his maiden Sessional Address that government was committed to pursuing a wage policy
aimed at ensuring equity in the pay system while tying workers' remuneration to productivity.
He made the statement at his maiden meeting with representatives of organized labour, employers and other stakeholders as part of consultations with government's social partners before this year's budget statement is finalized.
The organizations represented at the meeting included the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Civil Servants Association (CSA), Ghana Employers' Association (GEA), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Public Sector Reform (PSR) and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).
Also at the meeting was Mr. Steven Amoanor Kwaw, Minister of Manpower and Social Welfare.
The processes towards public sector pay review in general and the single spine salary scheme in particular began in 2006 under the previous administration and even though portions of the report on various stakeholder consultations were completed last year the process was stalled until the new administration came into office.
Dr. Duffuor said in kick-starting the process again, government wanted to assure workers of its commitment to running an economy stable enough for organized labour to benefit from the fruits of their labour in real terms and for businesses to grow.
He therefore called on all relevant institutions such as the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Ministry of Manpower and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Finance to begin the consultation process immediately.
“I will also urge the National Tripartite Committee, the body mandated by law to determine the National Daily Minimum Wage, among others, to immediately start the process of the determination of the 2009 National Daily Minimum Wage,” he said.
He, however, cautioned that in kick-starting the salary negotiation process, there was the need to be mindful of the enormous challenges facing the economy which was threatening the macroeconomic stability necessary for accelerated growth.
The Minister assured stakeholders of an open door policy by the ministry on issues of equitable salaries to ensure a peaceful political and industrial atmosphere.
Mr. Kwaw said it was important to build bridges between labour, employers and government to ensure peaceful co-existence.
Mr. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the TUC, said the Minister's show of solidarity to workers was welcoming news, as workers were still grappling with galloping cost of living.
“We were disturbed when we heard that the budget was about to be the read without consultation with labour but it is refreshing to know that labour could now make an input,” he said.
He said it was important for stakeholders to recognize that the discussion should be informed by the understanding that the single spine salary scheme “must be implemented in 2009”.
Mr Charles Cofie, President of GEA, called for fairness, equity and transparency in government's recurrent expenditure to ensure that all sectors of the economy were satisfied.
He said the single spine salary scheme would bring sanity into the fiscal policy, put pressure in inflation, reduce industrial unrest and create an atmosphere necessary for smooth economic development.