The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has told Citi Business News it is disappointed with government for extending the ECF program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Union who met with government yesterday to discuss current economic developments also raised concerns with the increase in textile smuggling, importation of food products as well as the taxes being slapped on workers.
Present at the meeting were the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU), Maritime and Dock Workers Union, the Ghana Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), and all unions under the TUC.
According to the union, it is disappointed with the slow pace at which a number of issues are being addressed by government.
The issues include textile smuggling, taxes slapped on workers for overtime, importation of food products that are locally produced as well as the extension of the IMF program by government.
Abdul Rahman National Chairman of the Maritime and Dock Workers Union insisted that the ministry must reduce taxes charged on overtime as well as scrap taxes on minimum wages.
“We do overtime at a cost. It is an inconvenience to us. In most situations, we don’t even have a choice but to do the overtime so for us to be taxed again we think it is just not fair. It is one of the inconvenience tax that we felt government would have removed” he said.
On his part, the Deputy General Secretary of PUWU Richard Nyaaba also stated that government could have done better in its negotiations with the IMF.
He was of the view that an extension of the program still blocks government from employing in the public sector, a situation that puts pressure on labor.
“On this IMF program we think the government can do something about it but because they have already found themselves in the program they are finding it difficult to come out but we believe that they can change some of the modules that will suit Ghanaians” he lamented.
A Deputy Minister of Finance Abena Osei Asare addressing the issues assured the workers that government is working earnestly to deal with them.
“We want to go with the IMF to complete the 2018 budget that is to carry the budget through to the end of 2018 and once we do that we believe we will be in a better position to wean ourselves of IMF and then we can start on our own. This is a very good time to bring out these things because we are still firming up the budget. We will sit with the relevant stakeholders and see to it that we all come to an amicable solution” she assured.
The labour union members were however not satisfied with her answers and voiced out their disappointment to Citi Business News.
Some of them who spoke to Citi Business News said “We are very unsatisfied because the unemployment is still a serious problem in the country which must be looked at while the IMF program is put to a halt by the government. Organised labour must take the government on boldly to resolve this issue”.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of TUC says he is hopeful the ministry will come back with better results soon.
“I have some assurances that they will keep working with us to make sure we straighten out things properly. So we have not lost hope yet even though the answers were not as concrete as we expected” he stated.
By: Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/Citibusinessnews.com/Ghana.