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06.01.2006 Business & Finance

TUC to determine living wage with partners


Accra, Jan 06, GNA - The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) and its social partners will determine a living wage this year before the next budget is presented to Parliament.

They have also agreed on the determinants of the living wage to include adequate food and nutrition, housing, clothing, education, water and electricity, child-care and recreation.

Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of the TUC announced this at the 57th Annual New Year School, at the University of Ghana, Legon. He said that the TUC would also continue discussions on taxes this year to ensure that Ghanaians were not overburdened with levies on petroleum products and other indirect taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Secretary General described a living wage as that which was adequate for the average Ghanaian household of four made up of worker, his or her spouse and two children defined in the last Ghana Living Standard Survey.

He gave the assurance that the TUC would continue to campaign for transparency and equity in salary administration, particularly in the public sector.

Mr Adu-Amankwah noted that the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) could pay pensions over and above the poverty line if it reduced inefficiencies in the Scheme.

He said the Congress would continue to urge SSNIT to reduce its administrative cost from the current 23 per cent to 13 in 2007, as contained in its Medium Term Strategic Plan.

Mr Adu-Amankwah blamed Government for paying low-level incomes and dared critics to prove any low-level of productivity, which had been said to be the cause of low incomes with facts and figures. "If we find that productivity is low in the country, we should turn to check the management first, before the workers.

"By the same logic, if productivity is found to be low in the country, we should turn to the managers of the economy - the Government," Mr Adu-Amankwah said.

He said lower salaries for public sector workers in Ghana were not because other African countries delivered their services more efficiently, but rather on "our Government's decision to religiously obey IMF conditionality to cap public sector salaries at a lower percentage of GDP."

Inflation and hikes in petroleum prices and printing of money in the past to finance electoral projects to win votes, he said, fuelled these.

Mr Adu-Amankwah said the answer to realistic incomes was a common national policy that would ensure that all the social partners played a "win-win" game and suggested that advice on such policy should be sought from the Nordic countries and Ireland who had similar experiences and not the IMF because it employed monetary rather than labour economists. Mrs Rose Karikari Annan, Executive Director of the Ghana Employers Association said realistic pension and incomes policy was long overdue, adding that a pension's policy in addition to providing a vehicle for retirement must establish incentives that promoted productivity.

She observed that a number of warehouses for storing factory products had been turned into Churches because factories had collapsed and called for a holistic review of the causes of the shutdown. Mrs Annan observed that the dearth of data made it impossible to measure and compare management, labour and equipment efficiencies and suggested to employers to make employees part owners of businesses to increase efficiency, citing the ownership of shares as an example. The Rev Kwaku Osei Bimpong, Head of Public Affairs of SSNIT, called for a National Income Protection Policy and redistribution of incomes through indexation.

Mr Thomas Ango Bediako, Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Pensions, chaired the symposium.