President John Evans Atta Mills on Tuesday reiterated the need for equity distribution and use of national resources to the benefit of all Ghanaians
He condemned the creation of a class system by some leaders and said leadership was rather the ability to use recourses fairly to improve the lifestyle of the people.
President Atta Mills made the remark when a delegation for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) led by its secretary-general, Mr Kofi Asamoah, called on him at the Castle, Osu.
The delegation called to congratulate President Atta Mills and Vice President John Dramani Mahama on their election to the highest offices of
President Atta Mills said improvement in the lifestyles of the people
would be yardstick by which the government would be judged.
He said the government and the TUC would team up as social partners to address the issues of fair public sector pay, pensions, end-of-service-benefit and unfair international trade terms.
On international trade, the President reiterated government's position
to protect local industries and said Ghanaian businesses would not be allowed
to collapse at the hands of foreign companies and that government was prepared to do something about dumping to protect local industries.
He promised to engage the TUC to ensure reciprocity in international
trade by championing strong bargaining power for Ghanaian goods.
On the global economic crisis, the President observed that the nation
was not immune to the crisis and said that the views and ideas of organised labour would be sought to reach a consensus that would be to the benefit of
the people of Ghana.
Mr Asamoah assured the President that the TUC was ready to work with government in the true spirit of social partnership to propel Ghanaians into
a middle income country.
He said the aspirations of Ghanaians had become clearly defined as democracy matured.
“We want good governance, respect for fundamental human rights and
workers' freedoms. We want transparency and openness in he processes of governance. We will like to see a determined onslaught on corruption in
all spheres of public and private life. We need policies that will
accelerate the eradication of poverty.”
Mr Asamoah said the TUC also needed greater access to quality health, education and decent employment.
“These are great challenges. We believe that it is within our capability
to meet these challenges. We in organised labour will play our part.”
He appealed to the President to set in motion a process to finalise
the implementation of the single spine structure saying “we in organised
labour are ready to cooperate with government to ensure that the process of
pay reform which started in 2006 would reach its logical conclusion.”
“We are also hoping that His Excellency will pay attention to the low levels of income in Ghana generally.”
The TUC delegation also urged government to provide the necessary
support for the pension reform implementation committee to enable them to facilitate the implementation of the new Pension Act.
The TUC also appealed to President Atta Mills to intervene so that all
public sector workers would enjoy end-of-service-benefits being enjoyed
by public office holders under Article 71 of the Constitution.
He drew the attention of the President to the issue of trade in which concerns had been raised in regard to the previous government's decision to initial the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the European Union.
“We are disappointed for a number of reasons. First, Ghana initialling
the EPA was a stab on the back of ECOWAS, which in October 2007 called for
the extension of the EPA negotiations deadline having recognised the
sub-region was not in a position to sign or initial any form of EPA.
“In our view the action by Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire is a threat to
Mr Asamoah said the secrecy that surrounded the initialling of the IEPA raised several questions on transparency, accountability and the right of citizens to know what their governments are negotiating on their behalf, adding that, the TUC was concerned about the nature of commitments the then government gave in the IEPA and the implications they had for employment in Ghana.
These include the commitment to liberalise 80 per cent of Ghana's trade
with the EU and removal of taxes and said given the huge subsidies European producers received, the commitments by Ghana would hurt the already weak productive base of the economy.
Mr Asamoah appealed to the President to open a broader stakeholder consultation on the EPA “so that we can chart a course that serves the national interest”.