Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, has asked members of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana, (CLOGSAG), who are demanding neutrality allowance, to resign if they cannot stay neutral in the discharge of their duties.
Speaking on the Super Morning Show, Tuesday, April 26, Mr. Bentil kicked against the payment of the allowance, emphasising that the state does not owe any public worker any compensation for being neutral.
“The state cannot afford it. No one should pay anyone for not going into politics. That will open the proverbial floodgate. Why don’t we pay Police for neutrality, why don’t we pay teachers and other civil servants for being neutral?” he quizzed.
His comment is in reaction to demands by members of CLOGSAG for government to pay them neutrality allowance based on a Memorandum of Understanding entered into with the government on January 20, 2022.
Mr. Bentil intimated that nothing stops a civil servant from going into politics. However, civil servants are to note that their job requires that they operate in a certain way and avoid partisan considerations in the execution of their business. Hence, any civil servant who wants to tow partisan lines or wants to be paid for staying neutral should “just resign.”
“A surgeon cannot go to work drunk. He may like his bear he may like wine but he cannot go to work drunk and he cannot be paid for not drinking. He can drink on weekends or if he wants to drink every day he would have to stop being a surgeon. So this neutrality thing, though it’s a red herring, we need to appreciate that we don’t have to pay people for it.”
“We pay people for things that they legitimately lose as a result of the work they do. We don’t pay them for things that they must not do. So I don’t think we should discuss that at length but we should not pay anyone any neutrality allowance,” he added.
Kofi Bentil wants discussions to be held on ways in which the potential of civil servants can be tapped.
“Indeed, what we are paying is not too little. They have capabilities that we are not tapping because of the leadership and the structures that we have put them in. We need to fix that. So that we can get their full potential,” he noted.
The neutrality allowance is to ensure that civil and local government workers do not engage in partisan politics during the execution of their jobs.
CLOGSAG noted that despite official reminders and follow-ups to the Finance Ministry, payment of the allowance has not been effected after more than three months. The Association, thus, embarked on a strike which commenced on April 21, to protest the government’s failure to pay the allowance.
The strike and demand for the allowance have generated public debate with divided opinions on the relevance of such an allowance.
Meanwhile, CLOGSAG has agreed to call off the strike following government’s decision to pay the allowance.
The allowance will, however, be paid during the last quarter of 2022, the government has indicated.
In a related development, 36 organizations under the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU), are making a strong case for the payment of Political Neutrality Allowance for qualified members.
The groups are demanding urgent action for the allowance to be paid following a similar call by some public sector workers under the Civil and Local Government Service Staff, CLOGSAG.
In a statement, PSWU maintained that, “it is pertinent to state that the grant of such allowance to a section of the workforce to the neglect of others in the same or similar category will defeat the underlining principles of Salary Administration in Ghana.”