Unimpeachable information available to The Independent speaks of moves among the entire workforce of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to embark on a strike action effective February 2011. The strike action, which is imminent barring any unforeseen circumstances, is over what IRS staff have described as persistent salary discrimination against them by the Prof. Mills-led National Democratic Congress (N DC) administration. According to our credible sources at IRS, letters to this effect that, staff of the Service have been cheated and discriminated against for far too long, have already been served on the appropriate authorities for action. Our sources also indicated that, the agenda for the contemplated strike action is being jointly prosecuted by both the Union and the Senior Staff Association of the Internal Revenue Service. Among their grievances, The Independent can report, are the "demeaning" salary levels of IRS staff countrywide as against those of their colleagues in other revenue collection agencies. The IRS staff contend that, when the idea of bringing all revenue collection agencies under one umbrella, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), was mooted, they (IRS, CEPS and VAT) were promised rewarding salaries in respect of their job risks, but told The Independent that, "the least said about our salary, the better, because it is demeaning." Our information indicates that, the notice of the anger and disenchantment of the IRS over salary discrimination were disclosed to the authorities last year, who promised to migrate them onto the Single Spine Scheme by January 2011. They told The Independent in an exclusive interview at the headquarters of the Service last Tuesday that, indications are that, their migration onto the Single Spine Scheme was not successful this month, a development that has infuriated them with some angry staff interpreting this to mean that, "we are being taken for granted." Turning their attention to the GRA of which they play a critical role, they said, the Commissioner-General, Mr. Blankson, who is an officer of CEPS, seems to be paying more attention to officers of CEPS to the disadvantage of the IRS staff. "The assurances that, we will all receive the same salaries in accordance with our ranks and educational levels have all been thrown overboard," the angry IRS staff told The Independent. They said, "what we have seen is that, the Commissioner-General has taken aspects of our service conditions, which others in the Authority were not enjoying and is now making our counterparts enjoy but has failed to allow us to also enjoy the good things the others are enjoying, which we in IRS are not enjoying." According to the angry IRS staff, the Service could be likened to the hen that lays the golden egg but they have nothing to show for their hard work, explaining that, last year, CEPS and VAT couldn't meet their targets but IRS did and even exceeded it and wondered why they should be treated this way. "We will definitely make our voices heard," they charged and told The Independent that, "when we start our strike action,that is when they will feel our importance in the revenue collection process." But in a reaction to the action being contemplated by the IRS staff, a close confidant of the Commissioner-General, who pleaded anonymity, told The Independent that, all efforts are being made to harmonise the systems of all the three revenue collection agencies. The source told The Independent that, there could be no discrimination whatsoever because as at today, there is no IRS, CEPS or VAT because all of them now operate under one umbrella and have one identity. He however indicated that, the problem has to do with lack of communication, which is fuelling suspicion and thus forcing some of them, especially the IRS staff, to rely on the grapevine, which at times misleads them into making wrong moves. As at the time of going to press yesterday, credible information indicated that, shivering over the implications of such a strike action, a consultative meeting was held and it was agreed that, the concerns raised by the IRS staff should be addressed by close of next month. "A letter to this effect signed by the Director of Support Services of the Authority has been circulated and we are awaiting its implementation come February," the source said.
Source: The Independent/Ghana