ICU ANGRY – Demands Answers For Falling Cedi, NHIS Collapse, etc
The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on government to take bold initiatives that will save the Ghanaian worker from further hardships and the economy from further decline.
According to ICU, if nothing is done about the declining economy and its concomitant effects on Ghanaians, it will result in social upheavals, which will disturb the peace and stability of the economy.
Speaking to The Finder ahead of May Day tomorrow, General Secretary of ICU, Mr Solomon Kotei said high unemployment, unprecedented high utility tariffs and high fuel prices have worsened the standard of living of Ghanaians.
He said the country has become less competitive and unattractive to businesses in the sub-region because of the general unfriendly business environment.
Mr Kotei tasked the government to take concrete steps to halt the free fall of the cedi, explaining that industries import most of their raw materials, thus the free fall of the cedi has made cost of production go high.
On the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), he challenged government to come out with facts and figures that support the signing or otherwise before the October deadline.
He expressed concern that the signing of the EPA would result in the collapse of local industries, as European companies would flood the Ghanaian market with cheap goods.
The ICU General Secretary charged government to set up proper mechanisms to determine wage levels, in order to avoid the situation where employers go to the negotiation table to dictate to employees.
He also called for the streamlining of the Single Spine Salary Structure, saying the government’s proposal to freeze wages would not hold water.
Mr Kotei advised government to set up a consortium for labour to engage regularly on matters of national interest.
He was worried that the educational system has failed to produce graduates needed by the job market, expressing the fear that with the upsurge in private universities, the number of unemployed graduates would rise to unprecedented levels.
He explained that considering the rate at which unemployment is rising, it would not be long before the country is faced with serious social vices in higher numbers.
Mr Kotei revealed that companies now have to cope with excess expenditure in order to absorb the shock from constant increases in utilities and fuel prices, which does not augur well for business.
He was sad that gains made by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2007 and 2008 have been eroded and the country has now returned to cash and carry.
He charged government to revive the NHIS so that Ghanaians can feel the benefits of paying taxes.