The migration of public sector workers onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) has so far cost the state GH¢6 billion.
The amount covers payment of enhanced salaries on the unitary scale to public sector workers, as well as arrears from the date of implementation in January 2010.
The amount represents a 71.7 per cent increase over the GH¢4.3 billion government wage bill for last year.
The Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), Mr George Smith-Graham, when contacted, said the huge wage bill had to trigger all social partners into thinking about ways of productively working to support it.
He was hopeful that the ongoing biometric registration of public sector workers by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) would cut down ghost names and thereby reduce the wage bill.
He said the intended introduction of a performance management system for public sector workers by the government would also contribute to increased productivity.
Mr Smith-Graham refuted claims by some labour unions and associations that the implementation of the SSSS had been a failure, as well as other claims that the payment of market premiums had been effected unscientifically, with no recourse to laid down rules.
He explained that market premiums related to skills and were paid to employees with skill sets that could not be found in a particular economic sphere.
The 15 per cent retention premium paid to teachers after an agreement reached between teacher unions and the government on Friday, March 11, 2012 was an example of that market premium.
He said during the implementation of the salary structure, it was realised that some professionals were enjoying some allowances akin to the market premium.
They were faced with two scenarios — to place a complete ban on the implementation of a market premium, which would result in the SSSS being unattractive and hence unfavourable for workers, resulting in workers refusing to be placed on it, or concede to market premiums being already enjoyed by some employees and working with that in the meantime while guidelines were being developed.
He maintained that with the agreement of labour at a Public Service Joint Standing Negotiating Committee (PSJSNC), the second option was taken and those benefiting genuinely from anything akin to a market premium were made to enjoy a similar scheme under the SSSS.
He said it was disingenuous on the part of some employees to agitate when the aim of the FWSC was to apply the market premium only to skills limited in a particular area.
He said some workers, under the guise of unionisation, were endeavouring to use the skills and expertise of some of their members, skills that were generally deemed to be limited, to push for the enjoyment of the market premium by all their membership, some of whom were of the administrative and managerial class which was not in limit in the economy.
On the claim that the FWSC had been unable to start negotiation for categories 2 and 3 allowances which related to special circumstances arising in the course of one’s functions that require compensation and allowances that are related to the welfare of the staff, respectively, Mr Smith-Graham said the huge cost overlay in the payment of basic salaries, particularly arrears, which were still being paid, made it impossible for negotiations on those two allowances to begin.
He said the FWSC started the decompression of the structure from the first year of implementation, dealing with the removal of overlaps from level 21 to 22 in the first year of implementation and tackling levels 19 and 20 in the second on the 25-level unitary pay structure.
The SSSS was developed by a consultant, CoEn, in 2006 after extensive engagement with public workers and evaluation and re-evaluation of jobs in the public sector as part of a public sector wide pay reform policy.
The resulting pay structure is unitary, with 22 levels designed to harmonise pay administration in the country and realise the constitutional imperative of equal pay for equal work.
The government, in a White Paper on November 2009, accepted the pay policy and implementation began in January 2010.