Government has admitted slowing down the processing of new employees onto its payroll due to lack of adequate resources to cater for all public sector workers.
Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu who made the admission said “we agree it is worrying the way we have engaged their services for long periods without payment of their salaries but we want to assure them that payment is being processed.”
“It however appears that the affected workers may have to wait a little longer before their salaries and other allowances are paid them,” He added.
Ghana’s three-year austere programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) froze public sector employment, but excluding the health and educational sectors.
Government has therefore continued to engage fresh employees into the two sectors but has largely been unable to effect prompt payment of salaries and other allowances due them leading to threats of strike actions and strikes from some of the Unions.
Reasons for the delay are clumsy as alluded to by the Unions to which the workers belong.
It will be recalled that on October 1, nurses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital went on an indefinite strike over unpaid salaries following what they described as deceit and failure on the part of government to fulfill promises to pay them.
Meanwhile the nurses declared a sit down strike on August 3 to demand that their employers pay them all their salaries which had been in arrears for 10 months.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) last week served notice that they would withdraw their services if government failed to pay salary areas of teachers some of whom have been teaching without pay for three years.
“We are talking about teachers who have been employed by the government of Ghana for the past two, three years and when it was time to pay them, they paid only three month’s arrears and the remaining outstanding salaries for 2012, 2013 and 2014 have not been paid,” President of NAGRAT, Mr Christian Adai Poku stated.
The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has attributed the unfortunate development to bureaucracy from ongoing validation of new employees by the Audit Service and processing for payment through the Accountant Generals Department.
Mr Iddrisu explained that majority of the workers whose salaries were unpaid had no clearance from the Ministry of Finance prior to their appointment and therefore could not be paid.
According to him, government had set up a Cabinet Pay Reform committee which was investigating new recruitments into the public sector in line with measures to eliminate payroll fraud.
But from the comments made by the sector Minister on radio over the weekend, the crisis over payment of salary arrears and allowances goes beyond validation and processing of new public sector employees.
“If by October 4, salaries for September are not paid we will be accused of not being able to pay public sector workers so mindful of that, we needed to stagger the processing of new entrants and their arrears payments in order that we will be able to pay all public sector workers in this country,” Mr Iddrisu assured.
“The Minister’s explanation regarding public sector workers who have not paid for more than two years is flawed; how long does it take for the validation committee to certify that a worker has been engaged on particular date at a particular institution,” an aggrieved worker queried.
“The system of unpaid salaries of new workers for two years or more encourages corruption,” another worker said.
Economist and Head of Finance Department of the University of Ghana Business School, Dr Godfred Bokpin argued that procedure cannot be used to justify the nonpayment of workers’ salaries.
“Government will have to be proactive in managing labour relations; I do not think that workers just enjoy going on strike but it looks as though the only language government understands is strike or threat of strikes,” Dr Bokpin pointed out.
According to him, labour agitations are not indicators of good economic governance, adding that there are genuine concerns about the management of Ghana’s scarce natural resources “because no country on earth has more than enough; every country is challenged to some extent but the difference is how other nations are able to maximize their scarce resources.”
Critics of government maintain that it did not have to take too long for the validation to take place.
“When people have been recruited and government wants to be sure whether those recruitments are legitimate, it shouldn’t take this long,” member of Finance Committee of Parliament, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng noted.
They contend that worker agitations and industrial crisis have been one too many, especially this year, pointing out that “it boils down to mismanagement.”
Under the present deteriorating economic conditions, concerns are rife as to whether government can continue to employ and pay salaries on time to avert the industrial action.
Policy Think-Tank, Center for Policy Analysis (CEPA) has estimated that over 300,000 graduates from the country’s universities, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions are presently searching for jobs in the formal market,
According to CEPA, the weak economic fundamentals coupled with the current power challenges have worsened the employment situation in the country.
It said the unemployment troubles will not improve anytime soon since existing government policies are unfavourable for job creation, particularly the manufacturing sector which is the engine for job creation.
This year alone, about 64,277 graduates from the various tertiary institutions have been posted to institutions by the National Service Secretariat. Majority of these graduates will later hunt for jobs after completion of their service.
Source: The Finder
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