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Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa eulogizes Ghanaian workers ahead of May Day celebration

Okudzeto Ablakwa. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, North Tongu, MP

Thu, 30 Apr 2020 Source: Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa


Right Honourable Speaker, I am in your debt for the opportunity to make this brief but important statement in commemoration of International Workers’ Day of Solidarity, particularly, in these apocalyptic COVID-19 times.

For more than a century since the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, USA leading to organized labour securing better working conditions including a watershed 8-hour workday victory; workers across the world have cherished May 1st as the most important day on the calendar of the working class. 

In Ghana, just as many countries across the world, the day is observed as a statutory holiday and national parades are held with the esteemed attendance of the President of the Republic and other high profile dignitaries in befitting honour of our gallant workers.

Significantly and quite historically, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) - this year’s May Day celebrations would not be marked with parades and other public activities due to the imposition of restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A very clear manifestation that these are indeed extraordinary times.

Mr. Speaker, it is in the spirit of the times that I dedicate this commemorative statement to the celebration of all frontline health care workers, utility workers, security agencies, media personnel and all essential service providers putting their lives at risk and sacrificing their all in combating that teeny-weeny marauding virus which has caused so much global damage in its wake.

Mr. Speaker, at the latest count, globally some 3,218,184 people have contracted the novel coronavirus.  Sadly, 228,026 people have lost their lives. In the United States 1,064,572 cases have been confirmed with 61,669 deaths. The UK has confirmed some 465,000 cases and 26,097 deaths. In Italy there are 204,000 confirmed cases and 27,682 deaths. In Africa we are grappling with 27,385 confirmed cases and 1,297 deaths. Back at home, the Ghana Health Service has reported 2,076 cases and 17 deaths as at the 30th of April, 2020.

Mr. Speaker, the grim reality is that many frontline health workers who are the real heroes in combating this pandemic continue to be infected and killed in staggering numbers.  In Ghana, it has been reported by the Ghana Medical Association that at least 13 of their colleague doctors have so far contracted the virus. We know one of them, the celebrated Prof. Jacob Plange-Rhule, Rector of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons died so painfully on 10th April, 2020 after contracting the deadly disease. May the Good Lord grant the great Professor eternal rest.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has thus far documented 9,000 health care workers who have been infected with 27 of them perishing. In Italy, 2,629 health workers have at the beginning of this month been infected, 101 doctors have died and 30 nurses and nursing assistants have also passed on in that country. In the United Kingdom - some 106 health care workers with their NHS have been reported dead after getting infected.  As the world comes to terms with the extent of havoc the virus has wreaked on the population of health care workers, it is abundantly clear that our courageous health workers are risking a great deal to keep us safe.

Mr. Speaker, the 2020 May Day must definitely salute and celebrate all essential service providers in this time of Armageddon.  As we honour these true patriots, it is important that we urge authorities to provide them with all the tools they need to work.  There must be no reports of inadequate personal protective equipment. We must do all in our power to ensure that our frontline medical staff are better equipped to win this war.  That is the least we can do.

Mr. Speaker, I will be remiss if I do not highlight the astounding contributions our scientists, medical professionals and innovators have been making in the fight against COVID-19. Beyond appreciating their efforts at conducting tests under enormous pressure due to national capacity challenges and embarking on tedious contact tracing; the successful genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 by scientists of the University of Ghana’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens deserve high praise.  The great news of a made in Ghana COVID-19 Rapid Diagnostic Test Kit developed by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Incas Diagnostics, a Ghanaian company must come up for worthy commendation. The College of Engineering at KNUST must be loudly applauded for also developing an automated ventilator to help us win this war. Prof. Fred McBagonluri and his team at the Academic City University College deserve the limelight and our recognition for developing a mechanical ventilator. 

There are other young innovators including the gentleman who has developed a solar-powered touchless hand washing system who must all be congratulated.  Mr. Speaker, these are silver linings in a period of stark adversity. We must not only applaud and celebrate these scientific advancements, we should encourage the executive arm of Government and corporate Ghana to reach out to all these institutions and individuals and support them with the requisite funding and incentives to enable them become giant industries in the near future that will create jobs and assist our post-pandemic economic recovery programme.  As we know from history, this is what other countries did when during World War 1 and 2 - innovations such as mobile x-rays, air traffic control systems, penicillin, hydrophones, tanks and the iconic VW Beetle were strategically supported by the State to become major economically viable industries.

The 2020 May Day would not be observed with the usual parades, merrymaking and physical solidarity due to strict social distancing protocols, however, it is absolutely important that all Ghanaian workers, particularly, health care workers, utility workers, security agencies, media personnel and essential service providers – they must all know that this august House accords them our highest respect and that they are most deserving of our glowing tribute on this auspicious occasion. They indeed occupy a special place in our hearts and the hearts of the people we represent in this Chamber.

All health care workers should take pride in the fact that we consider them the heroes of this defining moment in the history of humankind.  Their stellar example provides all of us useful lessons. I believe a grateful nation at the appropriate time shall show our full appreciation when the war has been won.

It is my hope Mr. Speaker, that considering the harsh effects of the pandemic on workers leading to massive job losses, pay cuts and psychological trauma; this nation will soon put out a bold economic recovery programme to restore the pride and joy of workers.

COVID-19 shall be defeated!

We shall rebuild again!!

Like the phoenix, we shall emerge from the ashes even stronger with far greater resilience!!!

Viva Organized Labour!!!!

Victoria Ascerta!!!!!

Right Honourable Speaker, I am most grateful.

Source: Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa