Reports received by Grapevine indicate that senior and junior officers of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Customs Division are threatening to embark on a nationwide sit-down strike.

The impending industrial action relates to promotional matters and other matters of serious concern that have not received due attention from GRA management, despite efforts to resolve it out of court.

One of the senior officers who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity revealed that some officers have been denied promotion for nearly a decade. He explained that unlike other security services such as the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Prisons Service, where promotion is automatically granted to personnel for intake groups, the situation is entirely different for customs officers.

According to him, customs officers who are to be promoted undergo an unnecessarily stressful interview process with foreigners who have no technical training in customs operations.

Meanwhile, officers who score above the declared minimum scores are being denied quota-based promotions, a situation that has created many outstanding promotion backlogs.

Referring to the recent promotional interview for the position of Assistant Revenue Officers (ARO) to Chief Revenue Officers (PRO) and Senior Revenue Officers to Chief Revenue Officers (CRO), he disclosed that the management of the GRA, in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, had set an outrageous passing mark of 70% and 75% respectively.

Our sources revealed that GRA management refuses to promote officers even if they have exceeded the minimum passing scores of 70% and 75% due to what we have learned is the result of unscientific and baseless vacancies stated by a personality at the head of the Human Resources Department.

This problem, we understand, severely demoralizes agents who contribute significantly to revenue mobilization and are an integral part of the security architecture tasked with preventing the smuggling of illicit goods across borders. Coming at a time when the country needs revenue more than ever and in the wake of the threats posed by terrorism in the sub-region is of grave concern due to the important role customs officers play in securing the country’s borders.

Another intriguing issue troubling the Customs Division is the GRA’s failure to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on CEPS v. the National Labor Commission (NLA) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) PSWU, as well as on Ayimbire against the Attorney General and another, Ayimbire. (J12 of 2013){2015}, in which the SC prohibited customs officers from forming or joining a trade union.

Despite these rulings, the GRA reportedly ignored calls by the Customs Staff Association to stop deducting union dues from the salaries of customs officers in favor of the Public Service Workers Union (PSWU) and Authority workers. Tax Authority of Ghana (GRAWU) . The situation, we are told, had led the Association to seize the High Court to enforce the said judgments since 2020.

In a circular signed by the National Secretary of the Customs Staff Association, Mr. Gift E. Kofi Tsamah, seen by us, the Association called on all Officers of the Customs Division to withdraw from the Unions in accordance with the judgments of the Supreme Court. According to the circular, unions have continuously demonstrated a lack of interest in specific issues and concerns that affect customs officers

The GRA management’s refusal to remove customs officers from the various unions is contemptuous.

GRA management and the Ministry of Finance should appreciate the leading role played by Customs in national development.

Officers across the country are determined to embark on a sit-down strike beginning next week if the GRA leadership fails to promote all of the officers who participated in the recently held promotion exercise and does not immediately comply with the Supreme Court’s decision on the status of customs officers in relation to unionization.

It will be a blow to the NPP government if it stays away from customs officials to embark on a nationwide strike of any form.