5 May 2014

Ghana: Unpaid Public Sector Workers & May Day

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A phenomenon of deliberate non-payment of newly-recruited public sector workers for upwards of a year, has taken root in the civil and public services and nobody seems to care.

Every year newly-recruited teachers, nurses, police men and women, radiographers, etc, are forced to literary drink gari to sleep, as government and its agencies look the other way.

One instance that came to light late last year at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where nurses had not been paid for a year, nearly became a conduit for the siphoning of state funds for some unknown 400 supposed workers, when the Ministry of Health called for the list of unpaid workers.

Teachers who were employed across the country early 2013, but were paid for the first time in February this year, had 75 percent of their salaries withheld for no reason. The National Association of Graduate Teachers is currently mobilizing to fight what it perceives as daylight robbery.

Yesterday, as Ghanaian workers "eyes righted" in celebration of May Day, workers liberation day, news broke that men of the Ghana Immigration Service, who started working in September 2013, have not been paid a farthing as salary.

Nor has the allowances promised them in lieu of salary been paid, subjecting all of them to avoidable hardship, especially to those with families.

"We started work on September 16 and till now, they haven't paid us. When we came back from training, they assured us they will be giving us allowances, but till now, they haven't paid us, except for GH¢500 each they gave us last month, after several complaints", one of them deplored.

Lamented another, "You can imagine, some of us are married with kids and some of us are away from home. People are depending on us and if you explain to the world that you don't have anything, they don't believe you because you are in uniform and they expect you to get something for them. Those in the remote villages are suffering and those in the cities are also crying. All we are asking is when our monies are going to be paid?"

According to reports, when the Immigration Public Relations Officer was contacted for comment, he denied knowledge of any salary arrears among personnel of the Immigration Service, as he and his subordinates "have received their salaries up to date".

The Chronicle finds his response very disingenuous. Is he saying that he and his subordinates would be holding their posts if they were less than a year old in the GIS? PROs ought to learn to shut up when they have nothing edifying to say in situations of trauma.

Sounds incredible, is it not? Officers of GIS left to fend for themselves for almost a year? Is it any wonder that illegal Chinese and ECOWAS immigrants are in the forefront of galamsey mining in the country?

And after forcing them to be corrupt, through our actions and inactions, in order to keep body and soul together, do we have any right to insist that they thread the straight and narrow path afterwards? No Sir.

As the blame is often put on the Accountant-General's Department for allegedly not releasing funds for the payment of new government workers, The Chronicle calls on the Accountant-General to take a second look at the issue and reduce the lacuna to its barest minimum, say three months.

No responsible nation drives its citizenry to crime by failing to live up to its duty as an employer. And Ghana is a responsible country.

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