President Akufo-Addo yesterday told Ghanaian workers that government has not ignored them in these hard times but rather taking steps to ensure that the Ghanaian economy gets better and to see many Ghanaians live productive and decent lives.
He was speaking during this year’s Workers’ Day celebrations which took place for the first time in the Bolgatanga Municipality in the Upper East Region.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, whose effects have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of my major preoccupations continues to be the protection of lives and livelihoods. Indeed, this is a responsibility bestowed on me by the Constitution, and I want to reassure you that, Government will do whatever it takes to protect your incomes and pensions in these challenging times.
“When we met last year at the Black Star Square, in Accra, I assured you of Government’s commitment to protecting the jobs and incomes of workers. Not only did we demonstrate this over the course of the year, but we also proceeded to improve on the existing incomes of workers and pensioners alike,” the President said.
According to President Akufo-Addo, government despite the difficulties has been able to cushion workers, following the payment of 15 per cent of their salaries as Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) to public sector workers, to ease their economic burdens.
“I acknowledge the fact that, over the past few months, the Ghanaian discourse has been dominated by the launch of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme. I wish to emphasise that participation in the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, voluntary as it was, was critical for the protection of the economy, and the enhancement of our capacity to service our public debts effectively and create fiscal space for our growth and development. In the midst of the current economic crisis, we cannot risk defaulting in the payment of our public debts, which would attract severe consequences – hence the debt exchange programme,” he stated.
Responding to the effect of the Bawku conflict on the safety of workers, President Akufo-Addo said, “… I want to assure the nation at large, that there is no higher priority for Government on the agenda of national security than the resolution of the Bawku conflict.
“Not only are we enhancing, as we speak, the security deployment in the area to promote more strongly the rule of law, and hold accountable all who violate law and order in the area, we are also intensifying the efforts to find a solution to the customary tensions that underline the Bawku conflict, so that, hopefully, a final resolution of that conflict can be attained, just as it has been attained in Dagbon. Nothing will give me greater pleasure, in the concluding days of my presidency, than to help bring lasting peace to Bawku.”
In recent times, many public sector workers, especially teachers and nurses, have abandoned their duties and fled from Bawku, with the excuse that their lives are at risk.
If the government is able to help restore peace to the Bawku area, many public sector workers who have left the area, are most likely to go back and many more workers will accept postings to the area, he said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo was happy that the Workers’ Day celebration is being moved around the country, so that, as he put it, every region will have a feel of the celebration, adding that initiatives like this make people across the country feel that they are also important to the development of the country.
The theme for this year’s Workers’ Day celebration in Ghana was, “Protecting incomes and pensions, in the era of economic crisis: Our responsibility.” Many of the placards from organised labour that surfaced at the event ground had messages that connected to the theme.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu assured workers that government is very much aware of the hard times and working to create the enabling grounds to ease their financial burdens.
He, however, called on workers to be committed and to work hard for the development of the country.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah reminded government of the position of the TUC on workers’ incomes and the security of their pension, adding that workers will want to have a comfortable retirement period for which they are opposed to government touching the Pension Fund.
Touching on the dignity of workers, Dr. Baah urged government to invest in the abandoned Affordable Housing project around the country to offer affordable and decent houses for workers to live in.
FROM Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga