The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government to suspend the use of public funds to finance what it described as “non-essential projects” to recover the economy.
Dr Yaw Baah, the Secretary General of TUC, said ordinary Ghanaian workers were suffering due to the current economic crisis and yet government was adamant on not reducing its size and sinking huge sums of money on the National Cathedral.
He said it was regrettable that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had now become the lifeline of the economy despite the enormous human and natural resources and the ability of government to bring stability to the economy.
“We will like to reiterate our well-known position that the IMF programme can never take us out this crisis,” he said, adding “our history of engagement with the IMF provides ample evidence that IMF sponsored programmes and policies cannot change our economic circumstances.
“We believe that government can lead us out of this crisis, and it can do so by cutting down expenditure on non-essentials including the need to stop spending our hard-earned revenue on a national cathedral, in fact, it will be better to convert the project into a national hospital.”
The Secretary General made these remarks at the commemoration of this year’s May Day held in Bolgatanga on the theme, “protecting incomes and pensions in an era of economic crisis; our responsibility”.
Dr Baah said the current economic crisis was “self-imposed” due to government’s wasteful spending through the enormous size of the government, building of the National Cathedral and corruption which had already weakened the fundamentals of the economy before the COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war exposed all that was hidden.
He said the economy was in tatters with increased high inflation resulting in excessive cost of living, the destruction of jobs and potential jobs including employment freeze in the public sector, debt crisis and the effects of the domestic debt exchange programme on investors including pensioners and the depreciation of the Cedi.
He said the government’s decision to seek financial bailout from the IMF would only impose more economic hardships on the already suffering Ghanaians and underscored the need to find local solutions to the economic problems.
Dr Baah noted that organised labour would continue to demand increment in salaries and improvement in condition of service if the cost of living continued to rise and urged the government to find lasting solutions to the challenges of the economy.
The Secretary General explained that the rights of many workers in Ghana had been abused by their employers with some losing their jobs and urged the government to complete the review of the Labour Law to protect jobs of workers.
“Some employers are taking advantage of the weakness in the Labour Law and replacing permanent employment contracts with fixed term employment contracts. In the last five years, TUC alone has lost 1,000 of its members due to this practice which is being promoted and facilitated by private employment agencies,” he added.
The Secretary General also appealed to the government to take urgent steps to ensure that the Saglemi Housing project was made accessible to workers to help them live decent lives.