“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time; but you cannot fool all the people all the time”—Abraham Lincoln
Some say strike here, strike there, strike everywhere. Others call it season of strike actions. But I simply refer to it as scrambling for a piece of the meatless bone.
Strike actions by aggrieved workers are not new in this country. The phenomenon of workers putting down their tools has been with us since Mawu knows when, and I dare say it will continue to be with us till the second-coming of Yesu Kristo. One can, therefore, safely say that the phenomenon is a common feature on the labour front in this country.
It is worrying enough for a government and the populace at large to have a group of workers put down their tools in the name of strike action. It is worrying because strike actions negatively affect the populace, leading to undesirable consequences. It is even more worrying when various groups put down their tools or threaten to do so simultaneously.
Last February it was doctors who put down their stethoscopes. Last moon it was primary and secondary school teachers who put down their chalks and pens. The doctors have given notice of a renewed industrial action, while university teachers are also spitting fire and brimstone. Snippets from the grapevine say other groups would soon join the fray. Do I blame them? My answer is in the negative, and I will tell you why.
I had the occasion to tell you this story, but I don’t think repeating the dose is a bad idea. As growing kids in a family house in Nima, my cousins and I used to eat together. We were always served in a big bowl. Our eldest cousin always ate the biggest morsel and a chunk of the meat.
One day there was a feast in the house. A big ram was slaughtered and a very sumptuous meal prepared. Our cheating cousin realized it was a perfect opportunity for him to once again put his diabolic plans into action, so he told us to eat in the dark. We were a bit sceptical, but we reluctantly followed him into the dark to avoid falling victim to his despotic actions.
He chewed the meat while we were busily eating the food. Mid-way into our feast, our uncle appeared on the scene and asked why we were eating in the dark when there was light all over. We all looked in our eldest cousin’s direction since he was the architect of the whole show. He could not give any reasonable explanation for his action. Our uncle chastised him and ordered us to go and sit in the light to continue our feast.
But it appeared our uncle’s intervention came a little too late. To our chagrin, the cheat had chewed all the meat, leaving only the bones. My gosh, how we scrambled for the bones! Having lost the meat itself, none of us wanted to lose the chance to crack the bones and savour the sweetness of the bone marrow.
It is my conviction that the various groups of workers which have put down their tools or threatened to do so are simply scrambling for the piece of the bone left. The President tells us in his State of the Nation Address that the country spends 60.9% of the entire national revenue to pay public salary workers, who are only about 6.3% of the nation’s workforce. What he does not tell us is that a chunk of that amount is spent on political appointees and Article 71 office holders.
The President, once again, tells us that we have eaten all the meat, leaving only the bone. What he refuses to tell us is the one who chewed a chunk of the meat. The expenditure on one minister of state per moon, I’m told, can pay a hundred public servants or more. Are we therefore not justified in calling for a reduction in the size of the government?
We do agree with the President that what we have now is a meatless bone. But when the President starts making appointments like a child sharing toffees at a birthday party, then the ordinary worker too would become alarmed and start scrambling for the bone.
Teachers, doctors, nurses and other public sector workers are no fools. They are privy to happenings in the country. They were in this country when the President, his vice, ministers, deputy ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) received a back-dated drastic increase in their salaries. They were not deaf when it was announced that MPs had been given 50,000 cowries as rent advance. They were also not blind when political appointees used government cowries on pampers and hampers.
In my mind’s eye I see some of my compatriots calling me names for supporting the cause of the ordinary man on the street. To those people I say, the truth does not need a clutch to stand on its feet. I’m not insulated against the effects of strike actions by workers. Indeed, but for the merciful Bearded Old Man above, Yours Truly would have lost his pregnant wife and the unborn child last February, when his wife’s due date coincided with the strike action by doctors.
Truth be told; we cannot blame workers for scrambling for the meatless bone, when those who chewed the meat have enough on their plate. It is only fair and just that we give them a piece of the bone to crack in order to savour the sweetness of the bone marrow.
By the way, which animal’s meat did the President allude to? Is it the meat of a cat or guinea fowl, aka akonfem? If it is the latter, then I would appeal to my compatriots to worry no more. With the 15million cowries investment for the production of akonfem, they would sooner than later have enough meat on their plate. But for now, they are justified in scrambling for a fraction of the meatless bone; aren’t they?