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The Pension Fund War Rages On

  Labour unions and government are at loggerheads over the management of workers’ pension fund with both parties taking entrenched positions, a situation that has led to the closure of public schools and health authorities attending to emergency cases only.

Minister of communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah told journalists on Monday that the “government deems it unconscionable” that pregnant and non-pregnant women, children, farmers, market women, drivers, artisans, journalists, traditional leaders and religious leaders suffered the deprivation of vital public services on account of the strike action.

However, the unions have denied this.

The government, for me, is quite funny and interesting

“Our colleagues in the health sector have stated emphatically and have continued to provide the full range of their services and care for emergencies, pregnant women and inpatient services,” the unions said.

The government, last Friday secured an ex-parte order seeking to compel the 12 striking labour unions to return to work, but the workers are adamant saying “the ex-parte order sought by the government is disappointing and a sign of bad faith”.

Co-ordinator of the 12 unions, Reynolds Tenkorang said in a statement that members were disappointed that since last week, the government has been touting an ex-parte injunction against them.

He said not a single union had been served with a copy of the court order by 2pm Monday.

“Indeed, if such an order exists, the government has clearly not been diligent in bringing such an order to our attention, yet has quickly put it out in the public domain,” Tenkorang said.

“This act, the forum believes is a clear demonstration of bad faith.”

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has also lambasted the government’s ex-parte order against the on-going strike, telling the authorities that its members were ready to face prison sentences for their actions.

The government sued the labour unions, claiming several reliefs, including alleging that the strike was illegal and also to surcharge them for costs resulting from their strike.

But president of the GMA, Dr Serebour told a local media it finds government’s resort to the ex-parte order as “ludicrous”.

“I don’t think there is any leader of the Ghana Medical Association who is not law abiding, but more so, we are also not afraid to go to prison, after all, a lot of people have gone to prison in this country for things that they believe in,” he said.

“The government, for me, is quite funny and interesting, because, we are in this country, rulings have been given [against the state] and government has not abided by them.

“So have they been arrested?”

For two weeks now, public workers in the country have embarked on a strike action to register their displeasure over claims that government has failed to account for the former’s pension funds.

The workers have sought clarification on the management of their second tier pension contributions and expressed doubts about government’s intention to secure their money.

The unions argued that their pensions have been handed over to Pension Alliance Trust, an accredited trustee selected by the pension committee to manage the funds and believe the money was given to Pension Alliance Trust to purchase Merchant Bank.

According to the National Persion Regulatory Authority, the total balance on account held by the Bank of Ghana as at October 27, 2014 was GHȼ1.6 billion, including returns accrued after investment in treasury bills.

Other civil society groups have, however, questioned the amount held by the Bank of Ghana.

In an email to the media this week, Franklin Cudjoe, head of IMANI Ghana, wrote: “It cannot be credible when on the same day last week, the Ministers of Labour say the value [of pensions] is Ghc 440m, the Pension regulator says GHc 1.64bn – Remember it is the same figure it says it had last year too – and later the state owned daily Graphic is reporting that the pension regulator suggests that the real figure is Ghc 2.1bn.

“The minister of agriculture sometime last year said the value is Ghc 1.2bn”.


The Africa Report – Africa


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