Workers Union Plan Nationwide Strike Over High Cost Of Living

Economics Labour Strike
Economics Labour Strike

Organised Labour, a union of workers operating in both the public and private sectors of the economy, has threatened a nationwide strike over high cost of living in the country.

The action is to push the Government to adjust workers’ basic pay to meet the rising levels of inflation, which is making it difficult for them to meet basic needs.

Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said this ahead of negotiation of minimum wage for 2023 at a pre-May Day forum in Accra on Thursday.

He said Organised Labour would go on strike should the Government fail to ensure that minimum wage of workers matched inflation rate.

He said: “We will continue to talk; we will continue to negotiate but if the dialogue fails, we are going to embark on an industrial action that has never happened in this country before.”

He added that: “The National Tripartite Committee has started the process towards determining the minimum wage for this year, for us, that’s a do or die.”

The TUC Secretary General said: “We hardly resort to strike to press home demands because: “It’s like war, and before we declare war and employ it, we have to make sure we have a good reason. This time, we have a good reason.”

He said the leadership of Organised Labour was working to ensure that the minimum wage for workers for every year was not below inflation rate.

The Trade Unionist said considering the consequences of the current inflationary pressures on the income level and economic hardship of workers, it was only prudent for the Government to give workers reasonable increment in their salary.

He said: “If we negotiate four percent and seven percent, inflation is now 19. 4 percent, we should not even tell them. They should come out to tell us that we know how you are suffering, therefore, we want to help you.”

On the Government’s attribution of the current economic hardship to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict on the economy, Dr Baah asked the Government: “Not to hide behind the COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

He said that was because prior to the onset of the pandemic and the conflict, workers were faced with economic hardships due to disparity on the salary structure, which affected those on the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), the most.

Mr Johan Ivanov, Resident Director, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung-Ghana (FES-Ghana), also noted that: “Joblessness, precarious jobs, informality – hundreds of thousands of young people who will not be able to find decent jobs – that’s the reality we’re facing; and this reality has implications for the stability of institutions and the State.”

He added that: “Throughout the region, we see that similar preconditions are leading to instability, and COVID-19 is not the ultimate explanation for all these problems as often used by politicians and other decision makers.”

He, therefore, urged Organised Labour to position itself to be able to challenge development models that were increasing inequalities and benefiting only the elites.

Organised labour had proposed a 15 percent pay rise for 2021 and 2022 and tabled 10 percent as its final proposal.

However, the Government and employers offered four and seven percent respectively for 2021 and 2022 noting that the impact of COVID-19 had made it impossible to go beyond the proposed figures.

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