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08.05.2007 Commentary

May Day And Press Freedom Day Jazz

By Ghana Palaver

“Charlie, Charlie”, Kuku Dadzie called out to Kwame Osimpo, who is just arriving at the BOTTOM TREE. “The Health Workers strike is on and despite the threat to dismiss them, the action is spreading like wild fire, moving from region to region”.

“I am not the least surprised” said Osimpo, who is now seated among his friends, “the Health Workers are not cowards like some of us who only bark but can't bite”.

“Who are they who only bark but can't bite?” asked Ansah Osinnor.

“Aha, look at the Alorvi Boys, out of cowardice they have gone back to the classroom and are now taking their revenge on the poor children they are teaching” replied Osimpo and added, “if the National Labour Commission is a man with balls in between his legs, he should go to court to compel the Health Workers to go back to work”

“That is the spirit! my boys”, chipped in Nenyi Kweku Sarkwa, who has been listening attentively to the discussion the young men were having. “I have been telling you that times have changed, during our time, no government experimented with our lives and who born you to go to court to force us to come to work?”

“Well, we are now in the Computer age, you know” Kuku Dadzie intervened, “these days some of us can be sacked and our jobs taken over by computers. Some of these Health Workers are specialized personnel in their fields and they can not easily be replaced, that is why it looks like the government is handicapped.”

“According to a Ghana News Agency (GNA) story I read, the Eastern Regional branch of Health Workers Group (HWG) comprising all categories, with the exception of medical practitioners, at an emergency delegates meeting at Koforidua, have decided to embark on an indefinite strike action with effect from last Thursday”.

“The story said, the decision was taken in support of a resolution passed by the National Executive Committee of HWG last month calling for a nationwide strike action of the group”.

“Oooh!, don't you know that currently as we speak, Effia-Nkwanta Hospital workers have also joined the strike action, cut in Joe Abrokwah, alias Aboroo.

“Young men”, Nenyi Sarkwa intoned calmly, “I tell you, May Day has come and gone but I can sense great danger at the labour front”. “Didn't you hear both the President of the nation and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) man? what is his name, aha, yes, Adu Amankwa”. “Whilst the President said his government is making progress with the economy and therefore workers should re-examine the no-money-in-our-pocket slogan, the TUC man was warning of turbulent days ahead because workers are suffering.”

“Nenyi”, Joe Aboroo came in again, “There is real danger ahead because at the Universities, tension is mounting as the two workers groups, I mean the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the Federation of the Universities Senior Staff Association of Ghana (FUSSAG) are demanding that government should give the Vice Chancellors the mandate to negotiate with them for enhanced salaries”.

“I am wondering what the National Labour Commission is going to do, when the labour front becomes saturated with strikes, Kwame Osimpo said, “they would have a lot of court cases on their hands”.

“You see, my friends”, Nenyi Sarkwa came in again, this time with a word of advice to the government, “what the government is failing to see is that workers of this country are witnesses to the affluence displayed by the President, his ministers, Municipal/District Chief Executives and party functionaries”. “The only time workers would reason with government is when they see that the President and his men are sacrificing just as they the workers are also sacrificing”. “Until then, this 'bamboo dey work, monkey dey chop' business would lead this country into something unpleasant”.

“Hmmm! Nenyi”, exhaled Kuku Dadzie, “Last Saturday, I went to Accra and on my way back to Takoradi, I saw President Kufuor's convoy going to Cape Coast and I counted 52 Toyota Land Cruisers, all brand new, plus the one used by the President”. “If each one of them should take 50 gallons of petrol for the trip, how many gallons of petrol will that be for just one single trip of the President to Cape Coast”. “What a waste of the tax payer's money”.

“I remember the other day, one of those Accra newspapers wrote that out of the $700 million worth of petrol imported for the whole country in a month, the government and its functionaries alone consume $400 million a month, leaving $300 million for the rest of the country,” Joe Aboroo said.

“That is what I just talked about”, Nenyi Sarkwa said with some emphasis, “the display of affluence, arrogance and complacence, that is what would kill this Kufuor government”. “I hear this time, the Ministers change cars every two years and they are at the moment only waiting for the African Union (AU) summit to be hosted by Ghana”. “Once the summit is over, they would share among themselves the 250 (two and fifty) cars imported for the Ghana @ 50 celebrations and to be used during the AU summit.

Osinnor cut short Nenyi's intervention and said “is it only the cars that borders you?” “you guys don't know what is happening in the Dodowa forest, the Ministers are currently also selling government acquired lands to themselves left, right and centre and I hear somebody, very close to the President is buying the only children's park we have left in Accra for the building of offices”

“Whaaat! are you serious”, exclaimed Joe Aboroo

“Ooh Yes!” Osinnor said emphatically.

“I said it, it is greed that will kill this government, Nenyi Sarkwa said.

“Enough of the Health Workers strike” Osimpo said after a long silence, “you guys know what baffles me? These Busybody guys (Journalists), I don't understand them. They are always quick at blowing the trumpet for others but when it come their own matters, they keep quiet like the deaf and dump”

“Why are you saying that about the Journalists?” Kuku Dadzie asked, “after all but for them, how were you going to hear or read all that is going on around you”.

“I am not talking about the every day happenings they have been reporting in the newspaper and on Radio”, Osimpo came in again to explain, “what I am talking about is the treatment meted out to them by a section of the public with impunity.” “Take for instance that Ennin guy who was shot to death by some unknown assailants in Kumasi”.

“But what do you want them to do?”, asked Osinnor, “to go on strike like the Health Workers have done?”

“No, no, all I am saying is they don't high light their own affairs but give huge prominence to other people like Teachers, Students, Lawyers, farmers etc”. “For instance, last Wednesday was their day, 'Press Freedom Day' and was observed all over the world, but did you see anything in the newspapers? “It was only 'the Daily Graphic' and 'the Ghanaian Times' who carried some news about the day, the rest of the newspapers did nothing, that is what I am saying” explained Osimpo.

“I read the Ghanaian Times” said Nenyi Sarkwa. “Some Panelists at a symposium in Accra to commemorate the Day, condemned attacks on Journalists and were surprised at the killing of Samuel Ennin and the assault on TV3 crew.”

“Did you notice the conflicting statements the Police were issuing after the death of Samuel Ennin?” asked Kuku Dadzie, “in one breath they said they suspected the murder of Mr. Samuel Ennin, was politically motivated. According to the police, they have been receiving conflicting statements on the murder and this had heightened the fear that, the dastardly act was premeditated.

“But they were the same people who said they have arrested some armed Robbers whom they suspect were the killers of Mr. Ennin,” Osinnor said.

“Once again, 'Omanpanin' Kufuor has scored a first, since independence, never has a Journalist been shot before, its only Kufuor's time, Nenyi Sarkwa said.

With Joe O Joe

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