Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on Wednesday called for concrete plans and a roadmap towards the implementation of universal pension scheme in the 2020 Budget and Economic Policy Statement of Government.
He expressed dismay that out of the 13 million Ghanaian workforce, only 1.5 million were contributing towards the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Pension Scheme.
He urged government to provide the necessary support to workers in order to access pension benefits.
Dr Yaw Baah made the call at this year’s May Day parade at the Black Star Square in Accra held on the theme: “Sustainable Pension for All: The Role of Social Partners”.
The Workers’ Day is observed to recognise the contribution of workers and draw government’s attention to workers welfare.
This year’s celebration coincided with the Centenary anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The TUC Secretary-General said more than 11 million Ghanaian workers were not covered under any social security pension scheme, describing the situation as unacceptable and appealed to government to correct the flaws in the country’s social security policy and called for concrete plans for the implementation of universal pension coverage in the 2020 budget.
Dr Yaw Baah expressed dissatisfaction with the GHC300 paid to some 200,000 SSNIT contributors as monthly pension and said it was woefully inadequate.
He noted that the pittance received as monthly pension resulted in the untimely demise of some of them because they could not afford to pay their utility and hospital bills.
Dr Yaw Baah also expressed dissatisfaction at the pension benefits, and urged government to critically look at the country’s pension scheme.
The TUC Secretary General expressed concerns about forced labour practices such as unpaid overtime, female workers denied maternity rights and hazardous working conditions for children.
He entreated government to provide the necessary logistics, financial and human resources to state labour institutions to expeditiously deal with labour related issues.
He asked government to start processes to review the national labour legislation to ensure better working conditions for Ghanaian workers and appealed to government to review the contract between Ghana and Meridian Port Services (MPS) which was signed in 2015 because its execution could lead to massive job losses in the maritime industry.
“Our understanding is that the Ghana government signed a 35-year contract with MPS in 2015, which allowed MPS to effectively monopolise activities at the Tema Port.
He said when the new terminal commenced operations in June 2019, with the monopolistic rights of MPS, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and other operators at the Tema Port, such as terminal operators, inland container depots (ICDs), stevedoring companies and shore handling companies, would lose huge revenues that may lead to the collapse of many container-related businesses.
The TUC Secretary General therefore appealed to President Akufo-Addo to intervene to review the MPS contract, saying if nothing was done about it, the GPHA alone might sack about 1,400 workers.
“We are, therefore, not only concerned about the massive job losses that will result from the operations of the new container terminal by MPS, but also the huge losses in government revenue,” he said.
The TUC Secretary General urged all social partners to work together to ensure economic growth and create more decent jobs and housing for Ghanaian workers.