Feature Article of Friday, 19 April 2013
Columnist: Dale-Asiedu, Michael
Optimistic Ghanaian folks rise every day to soldier on, amidst all the daily hustle and bustle under the sometimes unfriendly sun, the least most of us expect to hear especially, those of us outside the confines of the ruling political elite and the petit-bourgeoisie class is the laying down of tools by workers. Beginning from the Health corridors through the teaching compartment to construction sites, there have been recurring strike actions. We watch in bewilderment how labor issues are treated in this country. Events unfolded so far have only reiterated that, until workers lay down their tools they are not treated with the urgency they deserve. What haven’t UTAG, NAGRAT, GNAT, GMA, PHARMACISTS and others been told at the table of labor discussion, after all they say “jaw jaw is better than war war”? However, it is one thing ranting those promises and another making them happen.
We the masses perfectly understand your plight but we will be more content if your actions are directed towards those who caused your problems and salary discrepancies, those who put you in the fix you find yourselves now and left you with no other alternative than to declare strike actions. Yes, I mean the powers that be, who only recognize your services as essential only when you are on strike. Springing forth from the fountain of despair that we find ourselves, we say this chiefly because it is we the masses who suffer most from your actions. We are not ingrained and endowed with the financial muscle to pursue our education abroad so UTAG, NAGRAT and GNAT, we resort to you. We don’t have the monetary prowess to seek for treatment from private hospitals so GMA, PHARMACISTS, we depend on you. To betray and reward us with strike actions is burdensome, a yoke we can never carry, since it is we the masses who suffer most when we are ill, when our children go to school, all because you have withheld your services. The political governors keep their cool because they can visit private hospitals where you the same doctors attend to them.
Also, the true spirit of nation building demands that, every worker contributes his optimum quota even in trying times of a nation. Recently, the finance minister was on record to have said the nation’s finance was in red demurring the fact that the country was broke. I will therefore care to inquire whether truly the nation is incapacitated in meeting these labor demands. But for the dishing out of so huge an ex-gratia to our parliamentarians, I would have vouched in the affirmative but now I am tight lipped. The comments of one former MP, Maxwell Kofi Jumah makes me even go berserk and will not want to give it unwarranted space here again.
In most countries, the recent spate of strike actions will necessitate a crisis of epic proportions. Here in our Ghana it is business as usual. These strikes would have been averted if officialdom treated labor issues more painstakingly.
Moreover, without any empirical evidence, some sympathizers of the current political governors accuse the opposition for being the undertones in the current strike actions in their attempt to make the country ungovernable. In effect, our doctors, pharmacists, teachers etc. are doing the bidding of the opposition. It is this kind of Octavian propaganda logic that has made the country very turbulent, making even Doctors relinquish their Hippocratic Oath. Can you just fathom the nation’s highest skilled personnel directing traffic? This is in respect to the recent remarks of the now ousted National Service Coordinator.
We have lost in the past half year, on account of strikes alone, earnings to the tune of more than ?600m in monies paid out to workers, who have not technically been productive on those strike days,” Mrs. Angela Ofori-Atta, Deputy Minister of Manpower Development and Employment is reported to have said. Why won’t an amicable solution be found to the issue if we lose this much. Dr. Smith Graham, Executive Secretary of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission believes impunity to be the root cause of the unrest at the labor front, whilst I don’t dispute that assertion I also think the Single Spine Salary Structure be revisited so that all its anomalies will be rectified. Per our president’s state of the nation address, we are spending 60.9% on salaries alone and to me that is so huge a number for a developing country like ours. Dr.Graham also said most of the unions failed to exhaust all the avenues for settlement before deciding to embark on strike. That is rightly so because everybody including them is losing or has lost faith in the system which shouldn’t be so at all.
Describing some of the strike actions by the unions as an act of impunity, Dr. Graham said again that, the unions must proceed to the Labor Commission and possibly to the Courts if their grievances are not resolved before embarking on a strike. With this assertion of his, I can only ask whether the services of the courts are free, with acquiring the services of lawyers and taking into consideration the number of man hours that will be lost. Why won’t his outfit come to speed with amicable solution rather?
Inasmuch as we the masses need you urgently, we entreat you to make your strike actions more targeted. “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” to address our concerns with respect to the pursuit of our happiness so we pray our political governors to resolve the issues of our dear workers. We, the masses are worried.