Variable salary issue resolution in Ghana

By Seth KWAKYE, Coca-Cola Accra

Perseverance they say pays and dialogue and compromise are virtues. These 3 are what prevailed when the issue of payment of variable salary came up. Incentive packages, even though not wholly motivating, can help cushioning workers in these hard times. However, when management proposed to introduce a variable salary package in Ghana, the union took a close look. In the course of a management presentation to the union, there was a realization that its implementation would pose problems. There were issues relating to the calculation of KPI's (Key Product Indicators), mode of payment, rates etc.:
1. there would have been no say for workers in the setting of the KPI's which the union felt were not realistic
2. management was intending to slash a part of the budgeted pay rise for base salaries to use as variable salary which we realized was unfair.
3. adding the variable component as salary if agreed on would have forced the tax bracket up
4. above all there was uncomfortability as we had heard of places where it backfired

Entrenched positions of both management and the union caused the union to write formally to the Labor Commission for clarification. The Commission sat on the case and gave both parties a chance to resolve the issue on their own. This is where dialoguing and compromises took centre stage. The union did its own research and submitted its proposals to management:
1.we be taken through the KPI's and discuss them with the company, to ensure that we as leaders of the union have a better understanding
2. that the percentage be dissociated from the one stated in the normal negotiating budget for pay increases. This was done to forestall any ambiguity with regards to what has to be negotiated for.
3. we also proposed that it be termed as a bonus incentive so that we would attract a bonus tax which is lower
Management then went through the proposals and they were finalized at a joint meeting. An agreement was reached and this was communicated to the Labor Commission.
These decisions were adhered to and thus we now have it as an incentive package and is so captured in our Collective Agreement. We are still looking at any loopholes that need plugging and as and when there is any negative development, we will initiate the cessation of it.
For us in the union, our perseverance and the commitment to better the lot of unionized staff caused us to push till we had a better deal. Perseverance in Dialogue will thus always be a trump card for us.