The demand for salary increments and better conditions of service dominated this year’s National May Day parade in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region.
Public sector workers raised issues of salary increments, better conditions of service among other critical concerns on placards to draw government’s attention to welfare issues which affected them.
They displayed the placards at their respective allocated seats, and as they marched round the Jubilee Park, the venue for the parade addressed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The celebration which was on the theme “Protecting Incomes and Pensions in an Era of Economic Crisis; Our Responsibility, “brought leadership and members of various work Unions across the country together.
The workers, clad in their respective associations and unions’ T-shirts, carried banners with inscriptions such as “Mr President, Workers are Suffering,” “Mr President, Stay Off Our Pension Funds,” “Government, Pay Contractors Now,” and “Government, Pay NEDCo its Debts.”
Other inscriptions were “Mr President, Contract Work is a Threat to Pensions, the Time to Act is Now,” “Oh Nana Addo, 2 Years, 4 Months of No Pay Increase is Unbearable, Approve and Pay Our New Salaries Now,” and “GRIDCo, Ghana’s Economic Backbone Needs Investment,” among several messages.
There were mix-feelings among leaderships of labour unions after President Akufo-Addo delivered his address, while some unions said their expectations were met by the President, others held contrary views.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), its General Secretary, Mr Michael Ayuraboya told the Ghana News Agency that, “we were expecting that based on the promise that the President gave us in 2020, our retirees were going to be given their pension, it has not happened.
“Now we are hearing that it is going to happen in 2023 and that instead of the effective date to be backdated to 2020, it is going to be 2023. That is so disappointing. These are workers who toiled for this country for several years,” he said.
Mr Ayuraboya insisted that pension money all over the world was secured.
He said: “It should never be touched. That is why an individual cannot take part of the pension money until retirement. We are not going to allow that.”
He said it was the expectation of NAGRAT that the 30 per cent salary increment that was given would not have been eroded by the inflation and increments in utility prices, “So the worker is still suffering. We are not happy, we are disappointed.
“We expected to hear the President tell us what he would do now to save the Ghanaian worker. That has not been said, we expect more,” the General Secretary added.
Mr Ayuraboya noted that the President’s address was silent on the deplorable school buildings across the country where NAGRAT members rendered services, and said it was the expectation of leadership that the conditions of NAGRAT members in such deplorable and deprived schools would improve.
“We expected that the deprived area allowances that were promised us, in our collective agreement that has never been implemented would be addressed. A Committee was put together which worked for several months to produce a document, but nothing has been said about it.
“As we celebrate May Day, we expect that government will do something about the deprived area allowances to teachers and many more conditions government needs to meet,” he said.
Mr Simon Yaw Japaah, National Chairman of the Ghana Union of Physically Disabled Workers, said even though the President addressed their concerns, unless what he said came to fruition, they would not be completely satisfied.