The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, yesterday spoke to us about what could best be described as the state of the economy.
Providing the government’s standpoint on the challenges that demands for improved conditions of service by a section of labour would pose to the economy, he made it clear that the current industrial unrest could have dire consequences for the country’s economy if labour remained entrenched in its demand for immediate lump sum payments.
It is difficult to establish the pitfalls in the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) that has been hailed by beneficiaries as the best way to unify wages and salaries in the public sector.
Right from day one, the implementation programme has been bedevilled by controversy, as various interest groups engage the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) in a tango to be put on the new pay policy.
The SSPP has not been spared the destructive politicisation of issues under the sun in Ghana, with each political persuasion claiming credit for what has been achieved or blaming the other for the failures.
It is heart-warming, however, that all parties accept the fact that the time has come for us to step back and evaluate the policy to determine the way forward.
The Daily Graphic believes the proposed stakeholders’ forum will help bring out the concerns of all, so that a consensus can be reached on the outstanding issues.
The forum should be conducted in an atmosphere of “give and take”, such that nobody will be intimidated to hold back his or her position on the matter.
It is against this background that the Daily Graphic appeals to the social partners — the government, organised labour and employers — to move away from any entrenched position to a compromise that serves the best interest of the nation.
Various individuals and institutions have expressed their opinions on the turmoil on the labour front arising largely out of the implementation of the SSPP.
One of such institutions is IMANI Ghana, which has noted that issues such as the ideal size of the government’s workforce, as well as the question of whether or not resources were available to
pay salaries should have been considered before introducing the SSPP.
These are valid points that can be considered at the stakeholders’ meeting.
It is also about time we appealed to workers’ unions on strike to consider calling off their action in the public interest.
We can hold on to our entrenched position by demanding our pound of flesh, but that will amount to cutting our noses to spite our faces.
They may be right in seeking redress to their grievances through industrial action, but when everybody is appealing to them to return to work, they must do so now and use social dialogue to resolve outstanding issues.
Perhaps the time has come to look again at our labour laws and review provisions that make efforts at seeking redress to labour issues difficult.
In other jurisdictions, workers do not turn their back on work for indefinite periods. They usually go on strike for just a day or two to register their protest and put employers on notice about the under-currents.
Strikes are weapons of last resort to get employers to do the bidding of workers, but indefinite lockouts must be discouraged.
The Daily Graphic endorses the call for a labour truce now in order to lay the foundation for the open discussion of the issues because nobody goes to negotiations with entrenched positions.
Social dialogue succeeds only if there is a compromise.
The Daily Graphic urges the parties to move away from their entrenched positions and go back to the negotiation table with the intention to achieve a win-win goal.