Taxpayers’ Alliance Ghana (TPAG) has noted the current economic quagmire the country finds herself as a result of crass fiscal indiscipline and the lackadaisical attitude towards prudent public financial management.
The downward spiral of the living conditions of the overburdened tax payer could have engaged the attention of government to roll out policies, programmes and measures to shore up productivity in both the public and the private sectors of the economy.
Higher productivity definitely will offset fiscal imbalances and create conditions that promote social progress and better standards of life for the people of Ghana.
However, incessant industrial disputes in the public sector of the country have culminated in the decline in productivity of goods and services. A couple of weeks ago, all workers led by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) embarked on a nationwide industrial action in protest against what they described as government’s insensitivity to their worsening living conditions and low wages.
No work was done on that day throughout the country and the loss to the state is estimated to have run into several millions of Ghana Cedis. Apart from this collective industrial action, separate professional groups have embarked on strike actions at different times within the year to demand compliance with agreed conditions of service by government.
For close to four (4)months, members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) laid down their tools for government’s failure to pay their Book and Research allowance. As a result, all the ten (10) polytechnics billed to produce middle level manpower for the country have been closed down.
The future of thousands of students whose parents are taxed to pay these teachers by government has been toyed with and the impasse has been reduced to a blame game between POTAG and government.
What is even more intriguing is the inconsistent posture of government as to whether the Book and Research allowance will be paid or not. Government’s poor handling of the impasse has led to the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) also joining POTAG to further intensify the pressure on government to rescind its decision not to pay the allowance.
Clearly, university education is also heading into an abyss as that of the polytechnics. For now, the fate of university students also hangs in a balance as the date for re-opening has been postponed indefinitely.Much to the chagrin of the taxpayer, POTAG draw their salaries for three (3) months of no work done.
The over four thousand (4000) POTAG members are paid from the sweat of the poor taxpayer. Now that UTAG members have joined the strike action, the taxpayer is all the more short changed for having to pay higher taxes in a distressed economy while the money is doled out to workers for no work done.
TPAG wish to place on record, that it recognises the right of POTAG and UTAG to embark on an industrial action to press home their demand for what is rightfully their due. We are also aware of the legal triumph POTAG had over the National Labour Commission (NLC).
We are however calling for the recognition of the labour law which states unambiguously that a worker would not be paid for abstaining from work for more than fifteen (15) days. We also wish to remind POTAG and UTAG members that, in the developed world, labour unions pay their members when it (labour union) has directed its members to go on strike.
The state does not use the tax payer’s money to pay workers for no work done. TPAG will like to advice POTAG and UTAG to resort to the appropriate laws to compel government to honour its part of the collective agreement on their conditions of service. When a legal strike flouts the provisions of the labour law, it is no longer legal.
TPAG finds the attitude of government inimical to the rise in productivity of the country especially in the public sector in the face of these industrial actions. Government’s continued renege on its part of a collective bargaining with workers flashes in the face of taxpayers whose meagre incomes are taxed to pay workers.
TPAG calls on the National Labour Commission to demonstrate aptitude in addressing labour issues of the country which cost taxpayers millions of Ghana cedis annually. The ineptitude with which the NLC handles labour issues in the country has exacerbated industrial disputes to the detriment of productivity in the public sector.
We therefore call on government, POTAG and UTAG to respect the labour laws of Ghana as a show of a modicum of respect to taxpayers. Workers have the right to embark on a legal strike, however, if they stay out of work for more than fifteen (15) working days must not be paid. Taxpayers will hold government accountable and responsible for losses to the state as a result of its failure to comply with collective agreements with workers that leads to industrial strike.
TPAG demands respect for the rights of the Ghanaian taxpayer and value for money in the use of our tax revenues.
Long Live Ghanaian Taxpayer
Long Live Ghana
Frank Asiedu Bekoe
Director of Operations
Isaac Sarpong Kumankuma 0265398959