The acting Secretary- General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, has expressed concern about the poverty level of majority of workers in Ghana as a result of low salaries and wages paid them over the years.
He has therefore called on all sister unions in the country to forge a united front and fight for the welfare of workers to enable them to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
He pointed out that many workers who had served the nation for years were not only working under very poor conditions, and facing income insecurity, but also continued to receive salaries and wages that ranked among the lowest on the continent.
Addressing District and Regional executives of the Ashanti Region at the first executive meeting in Kumasi, Mr Asamoah noted that the need for workers to join or form different unions as enshrined in their constitution was to enhance leadership qualities that would ensure accountability and efficiency to fight for workers' rights and welfare.
He, however, pointed out that the challenges of globalisation “ in which giant corporations still see the need to merge, pose the task of greater unity among the union movement”, stressing that “splits are not the way to face numerous challenges facing the union movement.
Splits are an indication of disunity, and no union will thrive on disunity, particularly in a globalised economy”.“We cannot deal with these challenges if we do not strengthen the labour front,” he stressed, adding, “We need to continually be guided by the cardinal principle of unity and solidarity. That is the only way we can achieve fairness for our members and Ghanaian workers generally.”
According to Mr Asamoah, there are over 600,000 public sector workers providing various services in very important areas such as health, education, water, sanitation, electricity and security as a way of propelling Ghana to achieve economic stabilisation.
“These are the people who keep Ghana going,” he noted, adding, “Without the public service and public sector workers, the private sector, which is regarded as the engine of growth, cannot perform.
And without public sector workers, the trade union movement will not be as strong and vibrant as it is today, because the public sector constitutes 70 per cent of trade union membership in Ghana.”
On the various reforms initiated to address the disparities in wages and salaries of workers in the country, Mr Asamoah said, they had not been successful because of “over-reliance on external consultants who do not have adequate knowledge of the challenges confronting the public sector”.
He said for the reforms to be successful, it was equally important for the authorities in charge of the implementation of such reforms to ensure that “the public servants in managing the reform have solid understanding of all the elements of the reform, and that time and resources are budgeted to build commitment of all stakeholders in the reform through dialogue”.
Mr Asamoah expressed the hope that the ongoing public sector reform would address the unfairness that characterised public sector pay and also appealed to the government to “pay public sector workers well and motivate them enough for increased productivity”.
On the December general election, Mr Asamoah expressed the hope that it would be as peaceful as the previous ones.
He urged political party leaders and their members “to exercise decorum in their electioneering, and refrain from actions that can inflame passions unnecessarily, thereby leading to chaos in the country”.
Story by George Ernest Asare,