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31.01.2006 General News

IRS calls off strike

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 31, GNA - The leadership of unionised staff of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Tuesday called off its strike action following talks with stakeholders to resolve issues that led to a nationwide action they started on Monday.

Mr Wise Quarcoo, President of the Senior Staff Association (SSA), told the GNA that the main trust of their action was that the workers had passed a vote of no confidence in the Management and requested that the government amended the Retention Law, Act 628.

The meeting of representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, National Executives of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), the local leadership of the SSA and the PSWU, the Value Added Tax Service and the Revenue Agencies Governing Board agreed to most of the demands, which included an immediate increase in retention money from 2.5 per cent to 3.0 per cent.

The meeting also agreed that two management members, Deputy Commissioner in charge of Administration and Deputy Commissioner in charge of Finance, should be relieved of their duties. The government also agreed to increase its capital expenditure and grant them 20 per cent rent allowance, a benefit due them in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that had been enjoyed by the management staff. It also gave the assurance that it would deal with the over-bloated payroll.

Mr Eric Amponsah Boateng, Organiser of the SSA, told the GNA that the staff were satisfied with the agreement so far but would push immediately for a bill proposing an increase in the retention money to 5.0 per cent to be sent to Parliament.

The government could not grant the 5.0 per cent increase in the retention money because it needed legal backing. The 2,400 workers downed their tools on Monday to demand the release of a government report on a resolution passed by the unionised staff in June 2005 declaring no confidence in their management. An executive summary of the report was released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning later in the day after hundreds of placard bearing workers wearing red bands, some of who were drumming and singing, besieged the IRS Head Office at the ministries in Accra as the strike began.

Some of the placards read: "Retention Law (Act 628) must be amended immediately"; "D. C. (Deputy Commissioner) Administration should go immediately"; "We want substantive Commissioner now"; "Ghost names must be removed from the IRS pay roll immediately" and "Mr President, we can double revenue collection if and only if our needs are met." There was no management member at the IRS Headquarters when GNA went there.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kweku Agyeman Manu led the team from the government side, Mr T.D. Okine led the team from the national PSWU headquarters, the VAT Commissioner represented his outfit while the Deputy Commissioner of Research, Monitoring and Planning represented the management of the IRS. A representative from the Revenue Agencies Governing Board was in attendance.

Last year, the IRS collected a total of 6.446 trillion cedis, compared to a target of 6.422 trillion cedis it collected the previous year. 31 Jan. 06

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