Business News of 2014-05-03

Comment: Economy needs turnaround now!

Working people in Ghana thursday joined their counterparts in other parts of the globe to observe May Day, otherwise known as International Workers Day.

It is a day to commemorate workers’ struggle to end abuse of their rights by their employers who regarded them as merely producers of goods and services. Largely, May Day marks the agitation by workers to reduce their working hours from about 16 hours to eight hours a day.

Although some employers hate the guts of unionised workers, majority of employers have accepted organised labour as partners in the processes of running the organisations.

We know of some organisations that have scuttled attempts by working people to unionise in order to fight for their rights.

The most guilty employers are found in the Free Zones enclave and some foreign entities that think the presence of unions on their premises will undermine the authority of the management.

These employers do not only deny workers the right to form unions; they also do not pay the legitimate negotiated national minimum wage.

We recall a survey conducted by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) a few years ago which revealed that some employers, particularly those in the media and the food industry, offered their employees slave wages or they did not pay them at all.

In spite of the initial threat by organised labour to boycott the May Day parade this year if it did not reach an agreement with the government over the minimum wage and the base pay for public sector workers, workers turned up in their numbers at all the venues for the parade.

The TUC Secretary General, Mr Kofi Asamoah, who spoke on behalf of organised labour, did not mince words in his diagnosis of the economy, saying the neo-liberal nature of the economy was making it difficult for working people to get their due for their contribution towards the creation of the national wealth.

President John Mahama acknowledged the challenges facing the economy and assured workers that the policies of the government were meant to restructure the economy to deliver the best opportunities to all.

The President also asked organised labour to not lose sight of the connection between productivity and rewards because without efforts at growing the national cake, there would be nothing substantial to share among workers.

This year’s May Day was observed under very trying conditions for working people because of the challenges facing the economy.

Cost of living is gradually becoming unbearable for majority of the people following the frequent upward adjustment in the prices of petroleum products and utility tariffs.

Basic economic arrangements support the action of the government in order not to choke the budget with huge deficits but the policy of cost- recovery and the lack of policy options to provide safety nets for the poor are causing unease and pain to majority of the people, especially the vulnerable in society.

The Daily Graphic hopes that the government will use the forthcoming national dialogue on the economy to design strategies to halt the economic decline.