The Founding Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), George Smith-Graham, thinks the Commission has outlived its purpose.
According to him, recent labour agitations are due to the absence of an independent Emoluments Commission.
In an interview on Face to Face on Citi TV, Mr. Smith- Graham said “there are labour agitations despite the establishment of the FWSC because we haven’t made a very important step, which is to establish an independent Emoluments Commission. That is the solution to the problems we are having.”
He also proposed for the immediate dissolution of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and its replacement with the Emoluments Commission.
“It should replace the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission. The catch here is that it will be a constitutional body that will determine everyone’s salary. Fair Wages Commission as we have now is limited to those under article 190, and even then, some workers have gone to court to demand that they should be taken off the Single Spine Salary Structure. That is what creates the challenge, but if it is an independent constitutional body, we won’t have public workers feeling unfairly treated. Until this is done, we will keep having labour agitations,” he added.
”There were a lot of challenges and that is why the nation felt that having an independent emoluments commission is the way to go. When you read the recommendations by the Presidential Committee on Article 71, you will notice that previous ones will propose setting up an emoluments commission. For instance, the concerns of UTAG, when universities are made to go off government subversions, are they going to be allowed to determine how much they should charge the students? That is the fear of politicians,” he said.
He explained that establishing an independent Emoluments Commission will serve as a constitutional body that will determine the salaries of public sector workers.
“The single spine salary structure has been implemented for 10 years and I think it is high time it is reviewed. After that, we can look at the independent emoluments commission, which can bring everyone under the same umbrella. This is very critical. Also, I think negotiating in good fate and engaging with people will do the trick.”
“Sometimes we can agree on something and the Ministry of Finance will say it can not pay, and unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance from where it sits only looks at the books. These are some of the challenges and that is why if there is an independent emoluments commission, it can make a better decision. The country for instance can even agree, through the Commission, to spend about 40% of revenue a year on emoluments. Immediately the budget comes out, we all know that this is what we can afford.”
There’s been unrest at the labour front in recent times. At the moment, university teachers are on strike to demand better conditions of service.
Other groups, such as teachers within the various colleges of education, have had their issues resolved and have resumed teaching.
A public order and safety assessment report conducted by a political advisory firm, IntelAfrique Limited, shows that labour agitations were dominant in 2021.
The unrest according to the firm is a result of unfavourable remunerations and poor conditions of service.
The firm said a total of 32 threats and actual incidents of public order were highlighted.
Out of these, 11 were demonstrations, 16 strikes, four protests and one riot.