The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah says he has regretted signing the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG).“Neutrality Allowance” under duress.
Addressing delegates at the 14h Quadrennial Congress of CLOGSAG at the University of Cape Coast New Examination Center, the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations said: “There is only one thing I have done since taking office that I regret signing the “neutrality allowance under duress”. I wish I have the opportunity to reverse it.
“I don’t know what Dr. Isaac Bampoe-Addo, the Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG did to me. Before I realised, I had signed it, and I received backlash from members of government for that action.”
It would be recalled that in April 2022, CLOGSAG started a strike action, citing their frustration over the government’s delay in paying the allowance.
Their case was that it was to take effect from January 2022, and sealed with a Memorandum of Understanding, but payment never commenced, despite reminders.
The neutrality allowance was to ensure that civil and local government workers discharged their duties professionally, without getting involved in partisan political activities.
News of the government’s acceptance to pay the allowance to CLOGSAG generated widespread disapproval and increased rumblings on other labour fronts, and demands by other groups.
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In responding to the concerns of workers, Mr. Awuah reminded workers of the many interventions the government had to make to secure jobs and incomes, chart a path out of the ravages of COVID-19, and why workers needed to be cautious in their demands in order not to put undue pressure on the national kitty.
Mr. Awuah said regardless of debilitating working conditions amidst the global complexities, public servants had proven equal to the task and justified increases in salaries and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to ameliorate their plight.
He assured that the government is working hard to address the current challenges facing the economy and those that relate to improving the quality of life for all Ghanaians.
In that regard, he hinted on the government’s plan to pay an 18 percent wage increase for public sector workers, although labour demanded more, and assured that government will continue to dialogue to ensure a harmonious labour front.
“I will be the first to admit that conditions of service in the wider public service need improvement. However, these should be done within budgetary constraints to ensure that we do not put excessive pressure on our public finances,” he stated.
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Mr. Awuah appealed to CLOGSAG members to take advantage of globalization to gain access to jobs in the form of work that had been outsourced by wealthier nations to significantly contribute to the local economy.
Dr. Stephen Nana Ato Arthur, Head of the Local Government Service, expressed gratitude to public service workers for their dedication towards work.
“I urge you to continue working with Government in promoting industrial peace and harmony to increase productivity.
“Any industrial action embarked on by public sector workers’ union adversely affects the economy. Your peaceful negotiations in the year 2022 calmed down tensions and led to increased work output and productivity for Mother Ghana,” he said.
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The 14th Quadrennial Congress was held on the theme: “Introducing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME’s) as an avenue for self-sufficiency.”