Government?s crucial meeting with the striking labour unions yesterday?in an attempt to resolve the impasse regarding the Tier Two Pension Scheme?ended in deadlock following concerns raised by the unions over the court action initiated against them.

The striking workers refused to negotiate with government at the meeting. They insisted that they needed to consult their lawyers before continuing with any discussions on the matter, since the government had already gone to court.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of striking public and civil service sector workers and the Minister of Employment, Haruna Iddrisu, lasted for an hour without any positive result.

It was therefore postponed to today for further deliberations on the matter. ?It may end up the same way, especially when the government wants to eat its cake and have it at the same time,? a member of one of the unions observed.

About 12 labour groups in the public and the civil service embarked on an indefinite strike on Wednesday, October 22, to protest against government?s decision to manage their (workers?) tier two pension scheme with Pension Trust Alliance, an organisation they claim was unknown to them.

The workers say they want to have control over the management of their pension funds which are running into over GH?1 billion.

Government says GH?450 million is sitting at the Bank of Ghana as the tier two deductions, but the workers believe the money is more than that.

The government has also proceeded to court demanding the return of the workers and payment of compensation by the workers regarding the strike.

Speaking on Citi FM, acting Secretary of the Health Service Workers Union (HSWU), Reynolds Tekorang, said the unions had to respond to the writ filed by government as demanded by law before they could engage in any negotiation.

?And we have told them in a plain language that there is a writ of summons hanging on our heads so they must allow us. We didn?t come here to start the negotiation.

?We showed up for everybody to see that yes, we are ready to negotiate, but before we negotiate there is a writ of summons hanging on our heads and we must see our lawyers so that we clear the issue,? Tenkorang explained.

He added, ?The lawyers say we have just eight days to respond. We will be meeting them but with a condition. We don?t know how busy our lawyers are; we have to get our lawyers, and then when we finish talking to our lawyers, we will definitely inform government and then we will meet them, but it is dependent on when we will finish consulting our lawyers.?

Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister for Communication, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, has said government would continue to dialogue with the striking workers to address their concerns.

?We consider yesterday?s meeting as an improvement of the situation. Both parties expressed the commitment to continue further dialogue on the matter.

?We had indicated that government was willing to have a dialogue with the various labour unions with the view to finding amicable settlements to all the issues that were on board,? he said.

Mr Kwakye Ofosu said the writ filed at the court should not be a stumbling block to the negotiations with the workers.

?The suit is simply to seek interpretation to certain matters which cannot be harmful to the position of the other parties,? he claims.

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By Cephas Larbi



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