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20.12.2004 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Needless Costly Holidays

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There are many well-meaning Ghanaians who hold the opinion that too many public holidays are observed in this country.

Indeed,a number of Ghanaians who have travelled outside and observed the working culture of Ghanaians abroad hold the view that the numerous holidays might account for the poor work ethics and low productivity among our people.

Some Ghanaians have called for a reduction in the number of public holidays. Alternatively, such people argue that most individuals must be made to select some of the holidays, such that there would be no total stoppage of work in any enterprise, whether of essential nature or otherwise, due to the observation of a statutory public holiday, as happens in other countries.

Against such discussions on finding solutions to the issue of low productivity and production, it becomes disheartening when formal legal means are applied to provide for more holidays, at periods when the people have nothing really meaningful to engage their time.

Unfortunately, the 1992 Constitution provides, under Article 24 (2)that, “Every worker shall be assured of rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periods of holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.

”We have argued before in this same column, for instance,that some of the holidays must be limited to those who stand directly to benefit from such observations but not made to cover everybody.

But it becomes more worrisome when the statutory public holiday falls on a weekend and the following working day is declared a holiday, when all the ceremonies and rites associated with the holiday are observed on the day that it fell and there is nothing to celebrate on the new day, so declared.

The President has declared Monday, December 27, Tuesday, December 28, and Monday, January 2, 2005 as statutory public holidays. However, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day will be observed on the days they fall due.

Ghanaians will not postpone their Christmas from Saturday to Monday, nor can New Year's Day be delayed or postponed. In that wise, what is the productive value of declaring all those days as statutory public holidays, burdening those essential enterprises which must of necessity produce, at great cost, when that could have been avoided if we keep faith with nature?

Each year, after schoolchildren have marched as part of Independence Day celebrations, the next day is declared a holiday for schools. That makes sense, since it compensates for the efforts devoted to the march past and helps teachers and pupils to readjust. Majority of Ghanaians will never have any edifying way of observing the additional but needless holidays declared on December 27 and 28, 2004, as well as January 2, 2005.

We need to allow the observation of public holidays to fall when they are naturally due. Nothing must be done to change the normal order of things, since that could only create an unnecessary and costly burden on employers. We hope the government will take judicial notice. We urge Ghanaians to take up the issue as a crusade until the government backs out of this practice.

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