... As TDCL runs out of patience
The vibrant Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL), has threatened to embark on a massive demonstration, following government's failure to address their grievances.
According to the union, they have prompted the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), for the demonstration since the government had refused to acknowledge receipt of two letters that were written by the union to register their grievances over the severe conditions of living that workers were facing.
The Chairman, Mr. Wilson Agana, in an interview with The Chronicle said, the silence of the government over the issues have compelled them to take that decision because workers were mounting pressure on the executives of the union to take drastic action against the government.
He said, “We have done our best, government has push us against the wall, so nobody should blame us on the action we are about to take, no one should read politics into this action, since we are not politicians but we have given the maximum respect and now we have reached our limit.”
Mr. Agana explained that “We wrote to the government before the May Day and on the May Day, telling them the problems we are facing, but no response. After the May Day, we sent a reminder to them so that they could even acknowledge our letter but as of today they have refused to respond, we have exhausted all the procedures,” he added.
He stressed that the whole members of the union would meet to decide the date for the demonstration.
The Secretary of the TDCL, Mr. Mohammed Baba Tairo said the Council did not find any justification for the government to increase tax on petroleum products from 36% in 2003 to 42% this year.
He indicated that the council was not convinced with the introduction of the social mitigating tax on premium petrol since the public that used premium were private professionals and business people who pass on these burdens in tenfold to their customers, by raising their charges.
He called on the government to review downward the prices of petroleum products by reverting to the 36% taxes as in 2003, whiles the social mitigating tax on premium petrol be abolished.
Mr. Tairo said in view of the 50% increase in fuel prices, there is anticipated increase in utility tariffs and unfavourable income tax concessions.
He cautioned that the economic hardships on the people might breed corruption, low productivity, low morale, increase in school dropouts, and above all, promote other social vices.
Touching on Utility tariffs, he emphasized that the council viewed the anticipated increase in water and electricity tariffs as another burden that would nail the ordinary person in his coffin, because the effect of utility tariffs and petroleum prices affect all manner of people without any distinction.
He urged the government to suspend the anticipated increase in utility tariffs until remedies had been found to mitigate the economic effects of the price hike in petroleum products.
Mr. Tairo said the Council viewed the tax law amendment as being in favour of the privileged few in the society rather than the poor because the former had their taxable levels raised from ¢60million to ¢72million and the tax level reduced from 30% to 28%.
He reiterated that the manifestation of the insensitivity of governments on workers plight in respect of tax threshold revealed that in 1999, the income tax threshold was pegged at ¢900,000 per annum.
According to him “For the government to fix the income tax threshold at ¢1.8million is very regrettable which need further adjustment.”
He said the Council had urged the government not to take an undue advantage in taxing only workers, just because their pay is subjected to tax at source, but rather devised means to expand its tax nets on businessmen and women who earned far higher incomes than the ordinary worker.