The Electoral Commission Senior Staff Association has raised concerns over some operational challenges at the electoral management body.
This includes among other things, delays in the payment of administrative releases for the last two quarters of 2022, unprecedented delay in the payment of logistics and other services and delay in the payment of allowances for Commissioners for Oaths engaged during the 2020 voter registration exercise.
Other bottlenecks according to the workers are the reduction in the allocation of resources, pre-financing of operational and administrative activities and the outstanding payments for some temporary officials engaged during the District Level elections in 2019 and 2020 general elections.
“The commission’s inability to settle all outstanding administrative releases in full by the 15th February 2023 will cause the hanging of red flags at all offices of the Commission from 16th February 2023 to show our protest”, the employees warned.
The EC staff outlined these six main issues in a statement following a resolution. They explained each concern and likely consequences as follows:
A. DELAY IN PAYMENT OF ADMINISTRATIVE RELEASES FOR TWO QUARTERS FOR THE YEAR 2022 (SIX MONTHS)
i. Delay in the administrative releases for fuel, accountable imprest and inability to service and maintain official vehicles.
ii. Payment of unrealistic rates of fuel for official vehicles.
iii. Current economic conditions make it impossible for Regional Directors, Deputy Regional Directors and District Electoral Officers to Pre-finance fuel for official vehicles and undertake routine servicing and maintenance.
iv. Inability to make payments for utilities (water and electricity) for the Offices.
v. Disconnection of some offices of the Commission due to non-payment of utility bills.
B. DELAY IN THE PAYMENT OF OUTSTANDING BILLS
i. Non-payments for logistics (canopies, tables, chairs, boats, generators etc.) used for the 2020 voter registration exercise, under- taken during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ii. Logistics needed for the exercise was hired, based on quotas, rates and operational, instructions from the Commission, amidst ‘strong warnings’ of sanctions in the failure to adhere.
iii. Payment of only 20% of the total amount submitted for logistics, almost three (3) years after the exercise, which ended successfully for officers to receive commendation from the Commission for a good job done – the registers used for the 2020 elections are in debt.
iv. District Electoral Officers are pestered on daily bases with incessant calls from vendors to redeem their debts.
v. Some Vendors have sued some District Electoral Officers in the law courts and CHRAJ in attempts to retrieve their monies because Commission is unable to fulfil financial obligations.
vi. District Electoral Officers are being verbally abused and even threatened on daily bases for non-payment of bills, making them live in fear.
vii. District Electoral Officers have lost all the respect, dignity, goodwill and some favour earlier existed in their districts because the Commission has been unable to honour its part of the agreement.
viii. District Electoral Officers are now having issues with their families and friends from whom they borrowed to offset some of the bills due to frustration.
ix. District Electoral Officers believe that the Commission thinks the vendors were not truly engaged, hence the commission refusal to pay them.
C. DELAY IN PAYMENT OF COMMISSIONERS FOR OATHS ENGAGED FOR THE 2020 TRANSFER OF VOTERS
i. District Electoral Officers were instructed through their Regional Directors to engage the services of Commissioners for Oaths during transfer of voters in the year 2020, and have not been paid allowances after the whole exercise.
ii. The Commissioners for Oaths keep harassing District Electoral Officers because they haven’t received their allowance yet.
D. DRASTIC REDUCTION IN THE RESOURCES ALLOCATED FOR OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES BY THE COMMISSION
I. The Commission has drastically reduced allocated resources since the 2018 Referendum for the Creation Of new regions to date.
ii. Fuel for recruitment of officials, organisation of grassroots, training of officials, collection, distribution and retrieval of electoral materials from the regional offices to the district offices to the field has been reduced drastically since 2018.
iii. Daily subsistence allowances (DSA) for staff has also seen a reduction per the number of days stipulated for various electoral activities.
iv. Resources for hiring of training venue for Training of Trainers (TOT) and grassroots training has been reduced drastically, making the organisation of the training programmes extremely difficult.
E. After the payment of officials for the 2019 District Level Elections (DLE) and the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, some officials did not receive their allowances due to errors in their bank account details. The leadership of the SSA have made several appeals to Management to see to it that these officials are paid their allowances. However, it appears that the situation has not seen any change.
We wish to make a final appeal to Management to address this issue timely so that we can continue to enjoy the support, loyalty and cooperation of our temporary officials during future exercises.
In view of the above, the National Council, the second-highest decision-making body of the SSA and the mouthpiece for Senior Staff Members at the various regions have resolved to the following:
1. Commissions’ Inability to settle all outstanding administrative releases in full by the 15th February, 2023 will cause the following:
a. Hanging of red flags at all offices of the Commission from 16th February 2023 to show our protest.
b. Officers would be unable to perform administrative and operational functions that require any financial commitments.
c. The National Council of the Association may employ other legitimate and permissible tools under the Labour Laws of Ghana to press on home our demands after hanging of the red flags.
2. All arrears owned to vendors should be paid by Wednesday 1st March 2023, to enable District Electoral Officers have the peace of mind to live and work in their districts. In the event that the commission fails to make payments.
a. All calls from vendors will be directed to the Commission.
b. Vendors will be directed to the Head Office to claim their monies.
c. District Electoral Officers would be unable to engage the services of vendors for subsequent exercise.
3. Resources for operational and administrative activities should be restored to their previous levels; and rates and levels should be determined and communicated to officers before the commencement of upcoming activities.
4. Officers of the Commission would NOT pre-finance any activities under any circumstance.
5. Management should liaise with the Government as a matter of urgency to implement the recommendations made on conditions of service of the staff of Electoral commission by the Twenty (20)- member fact finding Parliamentary Adhoc Committee set up by Parliament on Friday, 28th January 2011.
6. Management should also endeavour to address all these pertinent issues in a timely manner for industrial peace and harmony to prevail, considering the fact that this year is an Election year.