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01.05.2006 General News

Workers celebrate May Day

Workers celebrate May Day

Accra, May 1, GNA - The Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has called on the Government to facilitate the process of putting monetary value on the determinants which would make workers earn a living wage they had been expecting all along by the end of the year.

This would ensure that workers in Ghana would for the first time see a significant improvement in their working conditions; the Union said at this year May Day celebrations on Monday.

Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of TUC, addressing a parade of workers at the Independence Square in Accra reminded the Union's social partners that they had already committed themselves to the determinants of the living wage, a significant step in improving the remuneration of workers.

Mr Adu-Amankwah also called on the Government to expedite action on issuing a White Paper on pensions based on the report of the Presidential Commission on Pensions.

The May Day, which was celebrated on the theme: "Organised Labour in an Era of Increasing Global Challenge" threw the searchlight on the threats of international and local policies and their effects on the worker.

In their attempts to join the global community, governments of poor nations are forced to accept the unfair rules of the global game through excessive deregulation of the labour market, trade liberalisation, privatisation and provision of general concession to attract foreign direct investment.

The consequences of such policies are that workers are found on the loser's side of the globalisation game.

Mr Adu-Amankwh, therefore, appealed to the Government to consider the plight of workers when choosing economic policies for the country, by involving various stakeholders in the policy-making process and ensuring that policies and programmes were wholly owned by Ghanaians.

He pointed out that while Ghana welcomed debt forgiveness, it deserved more particularly from the multilateral donors, who contributed to the huge debt pile up, since some of the failures of the nation could be attributed to the policies imposed on "our Governments" by the international financial institutions.

Mr Adu-Amankwah challenged these institutions to provide genuine support for Ghana to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the scheduled date.

He complained of the widespread poverty among both public and private formal sector workers, saying their incomes could not provide them with an acceptable standard of living.

The Secretary General said in spite of the recent increases in salaries in both real and nominal terms, a significant number of public sector workers still earned wages still below the internationally recognised two dollar a day benchmark.

He urged the Government to properly involve organised labour in all the stages of its public sector reform process to address serious disturbances on the industrial scene, and called on employers to copy the recent Government example of giving incentive in the cocoa sector to increase productivity.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Frank Hukpati and Chief Officer John Annang led Ghana Police and Prisons Bands, respectively, that played together to provide music for the march past.

The workers carried banners, displaying their organisations well as placards saluted President John Agyekum Kufuor; Vice President Aliu Mahama and other Ministers.

Some of the placards, which expressed the concerns of the workers read: "Reshuffle Our Salaries", "Quality Work Deserves Quality Pay", "Adjust Minimum Wage to Equate Fuel Prices" and "Labour Poverty is the Bane of Ghana”.

Placards of the Ghana News Agency (GNA) concerned the logistic and salary problems of the Agency, as well as their leading role as the number one wire service organisation in the country. They read: GNA - The Live wire of the Media"; “Bravo Mr President” and “Dan or No Dan Botwe, We Need Our 10 Vehicles”.

Other placards read: "Let's Fight Injustice in the Labour Front"; "Check Corruption and Kickbacks"; "Scanty Salaries, Fuel Price Increases, How Do We Survive?" and "Poverty Reduction Strategy, But Still We Are Poor.

Television sets of various sizes and ghetto blasters were presented to 24 workers, who distinguished themselves at the various Mother Unions during last year.