Agitations in the labour front appear to be worsening by the day as the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) becomes the latest body to go on 'indefinite' strike.
The National Executive Committee of CLOGSAG instructed its members nationwide to start the strike which began yesterday following what they termed as the failure of the government to pay them some allowances.
Even though the Local Government Workers' Union (LGWU) had already cautioned its members not to be part of the action being embarked upon by CLOGSAG, it appeared the action was gaining momentum.
A statement issued in Accra last week and signed by Joe Boahen, general secretary of LGWU said 'the leadership and management of the LGWU wish to caution employees of the Local Government Service, the MMDAs and Departments not to associate themselves with any industrial agitation including the intended strike by CLOGSAG next week, 14 th October, 2013 to compel the FWSC to implement the market premium.'
LGWU said among other things that 'any rush to force the FWSC to implement the Market Premium will spell doom for the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) and may not be very helpful for the economy in general.'
However, a visit to some departments and agencies in Accra, for instance, showed clearly that government and other official businesses had been grounded to a halt.
The Registrar General's Department and the Births and Deaths Registry were the hardest hit as the premises had been locked.
The Passport Office also shut down at midday.
There were, however, usual activities at the Ministries where the bulk of CLOSAG's members operated from.
The National Executives Committee of CLOGSAG instructed its members on Friday to lay down their tools in protest over unpaid allowances.
Director of Welfare and Projects of CLOGSAG, Benjamin Agyare justified the action by saying that it was not outside the Labour Act and therefore the strike was legal.
'The strike is going to be a knockout; our members are expected to be in their homes but we are going according to the rules in the Labour Act,' he said.
The leadership of CLOSSAG has been battling with the National Labour Commission (NLC) for the payment of the allowances over the years and it appears the problem keeps recurring every year.
Last year for instance, a similar industrial action was embarked upon by the association for a couple of days until the leadership called it off after assurances that their demands were going to be met.
After the strike, it was reported that the NLC was mediating between CLOGSAG and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) for amicable settlement of the impasse but nothing meaningful came out of the meeting.
Reports from the regions also indicated that the strike is going on unabated.
CLOGSAG's Northern Regional Secretary, Ali Anafo told Accra-based Citi FM that the union's leadership in the region moved from office to office to ensure total compliance with the directive.
'This morning we are out going round the offices and some of the offices are locked and nobody is there; so we are still going round to make sure that all CLOGSAG members comply with the directive.
'We have put a task force in place to ensure that any member of CLOGSAG in the region seen working will be sacked out of the office; after all, we are fighting a common course and we don't see why some of our members will refuse to comply with the directive.'
Ali Anafu called the bluff of the National Labour Commission saying, 'If our grievances are not addressed we are not returning to work.'
Samuel Collison, CLOGSAG's General-Secretary, Greater Accra said the association will call off the action if they are assured that 'we are getting our premium.'
CLOGSAG issued a statement accusing the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) of terminating the arbitration process with the National Labour Authority (NLA) and said that had compelled them to initiate the industrial action.
However, Earl Ankrah, Public Relations Officer of FWSC has dismissed CLOGSAG's claim and said the association rather refused to attend a meeting that was supposed to look into the issue.
He said the 'Top Up Allowance' which is a key demand of CLOGSAG did not exist by law as far as the FWSC as a mediator was concerned.
'We have made it clear to them that we are not negotiating anything. By law if you are not negotiating anything you do not go for arbitration.'
By William Yaw Owusu