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Expert to labour unions: Don’t hold government to ransom over COLA

UTAG Teachers strike

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Yiadom Boakye Amponsah, a labour consultant has called on the striking teachers not to hold the government to ransom as they demand for cost of living allowance (COLA).

The Ministry for Employment and Labour Relations is holding a second meeting with teacher unions on Tuesday over their demand for a 20% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). The first meeting ended inconclusively.

They are the Ghana National Association of Teachers, National Association of Graduate Teachers, Coalition of Concerned Teachers, Ghana and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union.

Talking to Kwaku Nhyira-Addo on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Tuesday (12 July), Amponsah said: “The president does not hire staff and so if you write to him to provide some payments, then what do you expect of him?”

“In all sincerity COLA is not a part of any contract between employees in the labour sector,” he said. “This is why if you want it then you must negotiate and not hold [the government] to ransom.”

Amponsah wants the government to be strategic in its approach to negotiation with the labour unions.

“I am worried for the government because you have all these labour institutions chasing you for COLA… what then do you do? I believe that the government should be strategic in finding solutions,” he said.

PSWU threatens to strike over COLA

The Public Sector Workers’ Union (PSWU) has served notice that it will embark on an indefinite strike beginning on 19 July 2022.

It comes after the government failed to approve the Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) request by PSWU in March despite a follow up in June.

A statement issued by PSWU and signed by its general secretary Bernard Adjei said the decision to embark on strike has become necessary because of the high cost of living and its subsequent impact on workers.

“It could also be recalled, that as patriotic citizens and social partners in the development of mother Ghana, organised labour groups, including the PSWU took the hard decision, to the chagrin of members, to accept a 4% and 7% salary increment respectively for 2021 and 2022. However, considering unfolding events such as relatively high salary increases for Article 77 and, related office holders and government expenditure patterns, we are worried that the sacrifices made by organized labour during the last negotiations has been taken for granted.

“The over 27,000 workers within the over 65 public sector institutions that make up the PSWU feel the
economic crunch in their pockets, with each passing day resulting in uncertainties of meeting basic needs.
Obviously, a possible return to the IMF further complicates the economic uncertainties faced by public
sector workers and flashes back memories of harsh labour policies that disadvantage the ordinary worker.

“Consequently, at an emergency meeting of the management committee and representatives from the over 65 institutions that make up the PSWU, our members were left with no choice than to embark on a strike effective Tuesday 19 July 2022 until our concerns are addressed,” the PSWU statement said.

Fred Dzakpata

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