Govt has protected jobs, improved on existing incomes of workers and pensioners alike – Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has told the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on the occasion of the May Day celebration in Bolgatanga on Monday May 1 that last year, he assured them of government’s commitment to protecting the jobs and incomes of workers.
Not only did the government demonstrate this over the course of the year, but also proceeded to improve on the existing incomes of workers and pensioners alike, he said.
Mr Akufo-Addo recounted that organised Labour appealed to Government for the payment of Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) for public sector workers to cushion them against the difficult economic conditions.
In response, he said, the Government and Organised Labour reached an agreement for the payment of fifteen percent (15%) COLA to public sector workers. As a sign of goodwill for workers in the private sector, the National Tripartite Committee agreed to the payment of fifteen percent (15%) Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) for them, in addition to the ten percent (10%) upward adjustment of the 2023 National Daily Minimum Wage.
In spite of the difficult challenges Government and employers face, he said, this was made possible through consensus building, to ensure businesses attain high levels of employment to hasten economic recovery.
“This is no mean feat, as it is the first time in the history of the determination of the National Daily Minimum Wage that the parties agreed to the payment of COLA, after wage adjustment for the year has already been agreed upon. This is an indication of our collective resolve to protect workers and their standards of living,” the President said.
He added “You would also recall that this year begun with Government and Organised Labour concluding negotiations on the 2023 Base Pay and Pay Point Relativity for Public Sector Workers in January 2023. Following a series of consultations and consensus building within the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee, the base pay on the Single Spine Salary Structure was increased by thirty percent (30%) over the 2022 figure, effective 1st January 2023.
“Indeed, the thirty percent (30%) increment of the 2023 base pay is the highest since the introduction of the Single Spine Salary Structure in 2010, and was made possible by the 2.5 percentage point increase in VAT. This increment will help mitigate the difficulties workers are facing, largely arising from the effects of global inflation. I urge Organised Labour to continue to work with the rest of the Tripartite Body to conclude negotiations of public sector salaries and the minimum wage for the 2024 financial year as soon as possible.”
On the issue of pensions, he said, the Government recognises the challenge posed by low pensions, resulting from the relatively low incomes workers receive during their working life.
Because Government is resolved to improve pension payouts, he added, effective 1st January this year, all pensioners on the SSNIT pension payroll, as of 31st December 2022, have had their monthly pensions increased by twenty-five percent (25%).
“This year’s increase is a significant improvement over the 2022 rate of ten percent (10%), and also the highest increase of annual pensions since 2005, during the time of the Government of another NPP-President, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor. All these measures, put together, demonstrate to workers that the Akufo-Addo Government is a listening one, a government which is committed to improving the lot of workers and their dependants,” Mr Akufo-Addo intimated.
He further stated that in the wake of the current global economic crisis, it has become even more imperative to protect workers.
“Our collective responsibility in achieving this objective is important, and it is for this reason that I consider the theme for today’s celebration, “Protecting Incomes and Pensions in an Era of Economic Crisis: Our Responsibility” as most appropriate.
“Secretary-General, Organised Labour, it is evident that this current global crisis is the worst crisis the world has experienced in the past fifty (50) years. In spite of the damaging effect of the crisis, we have managed to protect lives, livelihoods and jobs, and kept the lights on. The crisis is having a profound impact on national economies and societies. Incomes, pensions and investment funds are equally being affected as a result of the multiplier effects of the multi-faceted crisis.
“Government’s policy responses have been targeted at restoring macroeconomic stability, ensuring debt sustainability from the short-term mitigation options, to addressing the long-term structural challenges, and paving the way for sustainable and inclusive growth and development.”