A labour consultant, Austin Gamey says the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) should rather call for tax breaks rather than its push for the payment of Cost of Living Allowances (COLA).
According to him, the payment of COLA will not be a sustainable way of cushioning workers from the current harsh economic challenges.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, he said the demand for COLA may worsen inflationary pressures on the Ghanaian economy and further exacerbate the current situation the workers want compensation for.
“I will prefer that the working people go in for some kind of tax breaks on the pay as you earn (PAYE) so that everyone will have some cushioning and some money in their pocket. That will be a better way to do it. Government will not suffer any additional trouble by way of inflation as a result of that adjustment on wages,” he said.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) is demanding that the government pays 20 percent Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) to its members by the end of June 2022 or risk having them go on strike.
The Vice President of the association, Jacob Anaba, said the ultimatum comes on the back of current economic conditions and the worsening plight of teachers, as well as government’s failure to negotiate.
“The President had earlier said, and I quote, “we (government) know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life”. The question is what has changed? Mr. President, your people (workers) are dying; please attend to them now and do not prioritise the economy over the human resources. The worker can no longer bear the economic hardship,” he said.
But Mr. Gamey believes that the demand of NAGRAT could trigger all other public sector workers to also demand such an allowance, which the State cannot afford.
He said the government is currently not under any obligation to make such a payment however, it should consider constituting a tripartite committee with both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry for Employment and Labour Relations being part to discuss the concerns of public service workers and find an amicable solution to them.
“[Government is] not under any compulsion to pay COLA. The tax adjustment will be a more permanent solution. If you want immediate cushioning, they can be given GHS200 or GHS500 per person, but how long will they pay it? For one year? Or once? Or two years?”
“If I were the government, a tripartite meeting must be held. This meeting is long overdue. We need to call a national tripartite meeting and there can be a common solution. The COLA is a burdensome amount to be paid, therefore it is better they go to a tripartite meeting where the Finance Ministry and Ministry of Labour Relations will be part,” he added.