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01.04.2004 General News

Mixed reaction on new minimum wage for workers

By GNA

Takoradi, April 1, GNA - A cross-section of workers interviewed by the GNA in Sekondi and Takoradi on Wednesday have described the government's announcement of a new minimum wage for workers as "Good news" and commended the authorities for the increase. They said although much more could have been done to alleviate the hardship of Ghanaian workers, they appreciated the fact that the new minimum wage of 11,200 cedis had been fixed within the constraints of the national economy.

However, others workers said: "This is good news for us and our families, however it will not make much difference in our present standard of living".

The workers called on the government to evolve pragmatic measures to ensure that traders do not increase the prices of commodities arbitrary as a result of the increase in minimum wage. "Even though the recent budget did not announce any increases in commodity prices, we are all witnesses to the sudden increases in the prices of many goods", they noted.

The workers also appealed to the authorities not to increase the prices of petroleum products, since such a move could erode the little impact the new minimum wage might make on the standard of living of workers.

Mr Kwamena O. Odoom, Western Regional Secretary of the Civil Servants Association of Ghana, said the increase "is nothing to write home about".

He said the Trade Union should have used the minimum wage as the basis for negotiating for better salaries and wages increase for workers.

Mr Isaac Attram, an official of the Ghana Education Service, said though the announcement of the new wage was good, it was long overdue. He said it should have had retrospective effect from January 2004 so that workers could enjoy some relief.

Mr Attram commended the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) for its bold initiative at arriving at the new wage and urged the government to ensure that the increase benefited workers and not traders. Mrs Doris Boateng, a Public Relations Practitioner, expressed fear that the announcement of wage increase might result in "the arbitrary increase in prices of goods and services.

She said though, the efforts by the NTC was commendable, respective workers' representatives should have been asked to inform their colleagues about the increase instead of through "wide publicity to make it seem like a propaganda".

Ms Eunice Blay, an educationist, said the anticipation of teachers on new salary was higher than what was announced but urged all workers to accept the measure in good faith.

She called on market women's groups and other stakeholders to ensure that their members do not increase the prices of goods.

Mrs Gladys Wonkyi, a teacher, said the new wage was "too small" and should have been increased by 50 per cent.

He explained that though the present wage was slightly above the United States Dollar, the gains could be eroded as soon as other market forces become operational.

Mr John Antwi, a chief headman said, traders should not compound the plight of workers by increasing the prices of their goods since that could negatively affect government's efforts at lessening the plight of workers.

Mr Solomon Eghan, an accountant, said the new wage was "woefully inadequate" compared to current economic conditions and the high cost of utility services.

He suggested that the Tripartite Committee should have increased the minimum wage to 35 per cent across board for all categories of workers.

Mr Prosper Ofori, a teacher, said considering the cost of utility services coupled with transport and feeding expenses, the minimum wage should have been pegged at 30,000 cedis a day.

Mr George Arthur, a driver, said the new wage was not sufficient and the NTC had not done much to ease the plight of workers. He said the 22 per cent adjustment would not reflect on the living standards of the workers.

Government on Tuesday announced 2,000 cedis increase in the National Daily Minimum Wage from 9,200 cedis to 11,200 cedis, which is about 22 per cent, with effect from Thursday, April 1.

A communiqu=E9 issued at end of negotiations by the National Tripartite Committee and signed by Mr Yaw Barimah, Minister of Manpower Development and Employment; Mr Ato Ampiah, President of Ghana Employers Association and Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwaa, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said.

The Committee is made up of Government, Employers and Labour. Mr Barimah is Government's representative; while Mr Ampiah is the representative of Employers and Mr Adu-Amankwaa, Labour. The communiqu=E9 said any institution, organization or establishment, whose daily minimum wage fell below the new minimum wage, should adjust accordingly.

The statement urged the Ministry of Manpower and Employment to undertake a survey on the compliance with the implementation of the new wage.

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