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19.09.2005 General News

JCF would not condone govt's shortcoming

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Accra, Sept 19, GNA - The Joint Consultative Forum (JCF), on Monday said it would not, by any means, condone government's failure to live up to an agreement between government and the Forum in September 2005. The declaration by the Forum of a deadlock between itself and government as well as its petition to the National Labour Commission on the issue therefore still holds.

This was disclosed by Mr Smart Chigabatia, Chairman of the JCF and Executive Secretary of the Ghana Civil Servants Association at a Press Conference in Accra.

He said the forum, which consists of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Civil servants Association, Ghana Registered Nurses Association and the Judicial Services Staff Association, was forced to issue an ultimatum to the government, following the delay by government of the 2005 salary negotiations.

He said when this ultimatum expired without response, the forum on August 23rd, 2005, declared a deadlock and served notice to the National Labour Commission concerning the impasse.

M. Chigabatia said whilst waiting to meet the Labour Commission after sending to the Commission a letter dated September 6th 2005, which spelt out details of the salary negotiations with government, the JCF was invited to a meeting by the Minister of Employment.

He said the meeting, which was per the Central Management Board, was to be held on September 8th 2005, adding, "as an honest partner the Forum obliged."

The Chairman said at the meeting, highlights of a memorandum of understanding to have been signed to seal the agreement reached by both parties included the adjustment across board by the minimum wage, the salary status of levels one to two.

He said there was also to be a ten percent upward adjustment across board for levels 3 to 22 to take effect from March 1st, 2005, adding that a special allowance of twenty five billion cedis per month from September to December 2005 was also to be disbursed. Mr Chigabatia said there was also to be an upward adjustment of Re-imbursable allowances.

He said, unfortunately at a meeting, which was subsequently scheduled for September 12 2005, government put forward new proposals, which "radically" fell short of the earlier one it had put forward, which, was accepted by the Forum.

"By these new proposals, government, our employer, had withdrawn all the offers it gave us, which we accepted without any further negotiation."

He said the effective date of March 2005 was moved to June 2005, the special allowance was to be reduced to two months instead of four and the review of the re-imbursable allowances withdrawn altogether. Mr. Chigabatia noted that the concern of the JCF with the problems of salary administration within the Public Service, led to its collaboration with the government to implement the Ghana Universal Salary Structure (GUSS) to achieve some of the objectives of government. "We are all aware that levels of re-numeration are very low in the institutions making up the Forum, hence our pursuit of the full implementation of the GUSS."

He said further demands on the JCF to back down on the understanding would be self-defeating, "taking into consideration the huge amount government invested in the formulation of the GUSS".

Mr Chigabatia noted that when a negotiation had "crystallized" into a definite offer from one party and had been accepted, there was a firm offer.

"Once the acceptance has been communicated and also accepted, it cannot be withdrawn or revoked." He said the Forum's resolve to follow laid down rules and collaborate with government had, unfortunately been taken for granted and added that trust between the forum and government had been eroded as a result.

"We find it unacceptable that the members of the forum are now the only employees being asked to sacrifice their legitimate demands, especially their salaries and other entitlements to enable our employer to meet national commitments and achieve targeted wage levels agreed between government and its development partners."

He said there were however other employees who, though could be called upon to make similar sacrifices were being exempted. Mr. Chigabatia said the selective approach, which the government had adopted in resolving grievances of its employees; especially on salaries was not the best.

He said it was the position of the forum that a more scientific approach, which bordered on job evaluation and placement amongst many other factors, be holistically adhered to. The Chairman called on government to honour the September 8th 2005 offer that it made to the Forum in order to pave the way for the 2006 negotiations.

Mr. Chigabatia stressed that the JCF was not considering a strike action for the moment because it wanted to make use of all the more civil means it could employ to resolve the issue, adding that a strike was always the last option within such circumstances.

He said the Forum would move all its resources to ensure that fairness, justice and equity prevailed in the administration of wages and salaries within the Public Service.

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