Workers marching at the Black Star Square holding their placards
Ghanaian workers, who thronged the Independence Square in Accra yesterday to participate in the May Day celebration, have expressed their displeasure about the current harsh economic conditions in the country.
Workers from both public and private institutions held placards some of which read; ‘Workers Abr3’, ‘Where are the jobs for the youth’, ‘Ghanaian youth are suffering’, ‘Living wages is key to reducing poverty’, ‘Slowly but surely Ghanaian workers are dying’, ‘VRA, when will the Dumso end?’ and ‘President Mahama, recognize the contributions of workers,’ among others.
Most of the workers, who spoke to BUSINESS GUIDE, threatened to join forces to embark on massive demonstration soon if the current economic situation persists.
‘We can’t bear this hardship anymore, we are just tired of the government. Nothing seems to be working in this country,’ the angry workers said.
Ernest Opoku, President of teachers’ group, Coalition of Concerned Teachers of Ghana (CCT-G) told BUSINESS GUIDE that the placards of the workers clearly indicated that Ghanaian workers were not happy with the current harsh economic conditions.
He said, ‘Ghanaian workers are really suffering. The increases in utilities and petroleum prices have compounded the problem for us.
‘I personally think that the government does not have respect for Ghanaian workers which does not auger well. I think government should be up and doing before things gets out of hand. We need decent wages because we deserve it.’
Opoku further expressed disappointment in the President.
‘I am kind of disappointed because the President in his address could not tell us specifically what he has put in place to solve our problems.’
He hinted of possible industrial actions next month if government fails to put in place measures to alleviate the plight of the Ghanaian worker.
Richard Nsenkyire http://gh.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Richard/Nsenkyire , G eneral Manager , S amartex timber and plywood Co Ltd, told BUSINESS GUIDE that the placards showed the frustration of the Ghanaian worker currently.
‘I think that when inflation comes down and workers are paid well it will go a long way to mitigate their plight because now everything at the market is very expensive,’ he noted.
But President Mahama, in a speech, stated that ‘this year is a turn-around year for Ghana and I am positive that the Ghanaian economy will show strong signs of recovery by the end of this fiscal year.’
He said ‘even though some of the ‘home-grown strategies’ being implemented to revive the economy were harsh, I assure you my countrymen and women that these measures are achieving the desired effect and the economy are gradually responding.’
Touching on workers’ demands for improved wages, the president expressed concern that negotiations on the national minimum wage could not be concluded before the May Day celebration today.
He said, ‘The deadlock that we are currently experiencing is a reflection of how critical wage levels have become. If not properly handled, an increase in wages could derail the micro-economic gains.
‘Another wage overrun as we experienced last year will make it difficult for us to meet our deficit target and bring the micro-economy back on track; it will fuel inflation and push interest rates higher; this will create an adverse environment for the growth of business and will lead to the creation of fewer jobs to absorb the growing number of our graduating youth.’
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By Cephas Larbi
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