Mr. George Smith-Graham, Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, has suggested a possible freeze in annual pay rise for public sector workers and as a means of curtailing the galloping wage bill.
He said the pay increments that are negotiated annually by workers, despite the rise in the salaries of almost all workers migrated onto the single spine, culminated in the increasing wage bill.
“We have implemented Single spine and apart from the fact when they (worker) are migrated, they get increases, we also have the annual increases that we do and we think that these are reasons why the wage bill is going very high”.
Mr. Graham, who made a presentation on the Single Spine implementation challenges and the way forward, at the on-going SSPP National Review forum in Ho on Monday, said organized labour and other stakeholders at the forum should come to a consensus on a possible freeze in annual pay increments
“I think that it should be possible for us all to sit down and as social partners to discuss, even if is possible freezing or slashing of salaries of article 71. So that we will be able, all together manage the wage bill” he suggested.
The FWSC boss also attributed the huge wage bill to the inequities which hitherto existed among the various salary structures but are being corrected on the single spine. He also called for streamlining of public sector recruitment and a thorough audit of the public sector payroll to remove ‘ghost names’ and block leakages to sustain the policy.
Mr. Smith-Graham said the commission was unable to forestall the numerous labour agitations that plagued the implementation of the SSPP because of resource constraints. He noted that the agitations which were mostly out of the high public expectation could not be effectively managed because of lack of resources to carry out enough public education.
He also said lack of proper offices for the commission coupled with limited staff hinders the proper functioning of the commission.
“We are very lean on the ground, this is commission that do not have offices, even critical middle level employees that we need, we don’t have”.
Mr. Graham further disclosed that, the commission is yet to receive any support from government of Ghana, noting “since the establishment, government of Ghana have not given us any single vehicle to work with. Most of the supports we have are from donor partners. This needs to be looked at”.
He also bemoaned the over politicization of the SSPP and stated the ‘pulling of strings’ behind the scene by politicians when there are labour agitations is major difficulty facing the commission.
“While there is an agitation we are trying to resolve, you see the politicians behind given assurances to some of the labour unions, some the decision given at labour commission are sometimes influenced by ministers. These I think we should all be careful with”. Mr. Graham stated.