24 July, 2014Workers took to the streets all over Ghana on 24 July 2014 demanding that the government addresses the country’s dire economic and social conditions and alleviates the hardship faced by majority of citizens.
The one-day protest where frustrated workers expressed their fury through wailings, placards, songs, shouts and vuvuzelas was called by organized labour and supported by the Ghana Trade Union Congress. Protestors, at least 7,000 of them in the capital Accra, accused the government of poor fiscal policies and mismanaging the economy.
A core demand is that immediate action be taken to halt the depreciation of the Ghanaian currency, the Cedi, and the rising cost of living. “The Cedi has depreciated so much that minimum wage is now less than two US dollars a day, so we can say it is officially poverty wages,” says Solomon Kotei, General Secretary of Industrial & Commercial Workers Union (ICU) which is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.
“Petroleum is almost double what it was a year and a half ago. We face power outages and water shortages all the time and still we face ever increasing utility costs. All this because of the depreciation of our currency but also due to poor planning and inefficiencies,” explains Kotei. “We are the ninth worst managed economy in the world despite our wealth in so many things like cocoa and even petroleum. So this is not about global economic problems, these are home-grown problems rooted in corruption. Workers are saying this cannot be allowed to continue.”
Labour is aware that businesses and industries are facing difficulties and Kotei expressed concern that 20 companies organised by ICU may have to close which would result in over 4000 job losses.
IndustriALL’s other Ghanaian affiliate; the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) also has put its weight behind the demonstration, “We have to let our government know that we are not happy with the state of the economy,” says Prince William Ankrah, GMWU General Secretary.
Ankrah proposes a way forward, “We need to seek solutions within the industrial relations landscape, we need social dialogue where we can sit together to ensure mature and peaceful engagement on the nature of the economic situation confronting us.”