The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on government to suspend the automatic adjustment of fuel prices and eliminate all “nuisance taxes and levies” built into fuel pricing in the face of worsening living conditions in the country.
In a statement to comment on the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government, the congress said government must do more to lessen the sufferings of the people.
“While real incomes are falling, the cost of living is rising. In the private sector loss of employment and pay cuts implemented to address effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have worsened the plight of workers in that sector.
“Ghanaians are suffering. We expect government to do what governments are created to do; that is to support citizens in such periods of great suffering.
“We insist that government must suspend the automatic adjustment of fuel prices in the same spirit that government suspended the fiscal responsibility law,” the statement copied the Ghanaian Times demanded.
Doing the above, the TUC argued, would not create any problem for the government as it called for an upward adjustment of the income tax-free threshold to give some relief to workers.
“An increase in the tax-free threshold will immediately increase workers’ disposable incomes and reduce the agitation that has followed the unprecedented low increment in national minimum wage and public sector base pay,” the Congress stated.
Bemoaning what it said was the low remuneration of public sector workers which saw a four per cent increment for this year with majority of them earning below a GH¢1,000 per month the TUC asked: “How do we explain the huge proportion of government revenues devoted to public sector wages and the low wages being received by the majority of public sector workers?”
In the view of the TUC, the wage inequality between Article 71 office holders and other public sector workers partly accounts for this apparent contradiction as underscored by the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Presidential Committee on Emoluments.
The agitations which has followed the announcement of the four per cent increment for public sector workers and the cumulative 71 per cent for Article 71 Office holders over a four-year period, the TUC said, was a call for fairness in the public sector reward system.
To this end, it said the Single Spine Pay Policy and the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) initiated to address the twin problems of low pay and pay inequities in the public sector has not achieved its aim.
Admitting that the first two years of the implementation of the SSSS – 2010-2012 – saw enhanced real wages, the euphoria vanished with wage increments below inflation leading to precipitous decline in real wages.
“Clearly, the Single Spine Pay Policy has failed to achieve its objectives. Nothing short of a comprehensive review of the public sector pay regime can stem the flood of agitations in the public sector,” the TUC observed.
It reiterated Organised Labour’s earlier call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to initiate a process towards the establishment of a commission made up of experts from various fields to advise government on public sector salaries.