Does NDC really have the wellbeing of UTAG and other Ghanaian workers at heart?

UTAG Logo UTAG began its strike action on 10th January

Fri, 11 Feb 2022 Source: Kwaku Badu

The dishonesty and hypocrisy being displayed by the operatives of the opposition NDC have compelled me to wade into the ongoing impasse between the government and the University Teachers Association of Ghana(UTAG).

It is somewhat bizarre for the operatives of the NDC to create an impression that they would have agreed entirely with the demands of the UTAG if they were in government.

Apparently, the NDC loyalist's inconsistencies are in consonance with former President Mahama’s May Day’s message to the courageous and unwearied Ghanaian workers a few years ago.

Ex-President Mahama writes: “On my part, I promise you truthful, selfless and dedicated leadership, to improve the wellbeing and security of all Ghanaians.

“Let me also remind the government of the overarching need to work conscientiously towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in this particular case, Goal 8, which calls for the promotion of sustainable economic growth and decent work for all”.

In fact, it is quite ironic for former President Mahama and the NDC loyalists to claim that they rather cared for Ghanaian workers while in office.

Dearest reader, if you may remember, somewhere in 2015, the medical doctors working in the country’s health centres, quit their consulting rooms indefinitely and threatened to carry out mass resignations if the Mahama government failed to improve their conditions of service.

A few days after the medical doctors’ agitation, pharmacists and psychiatric nurses left their posts, requesting improved working conditions and unpaid allowances and salaries.

Moreover, following unsuccessful talks, teachers in public universities declared an indefinite strike to demand payment of their 2014 and 2015 book and research allowances.

According to the university teachers association, the Mahama government egregiously failed to acknowledge receipt of several letters they have written requesting payment of the allowances, which led to their decision to boycott the lecture rooms.

The then-president of the association, Dr Samuel Ofori Bekoe, stated in a statement: “We will not take part in any academic work until our demands are met.”

Dearest reader, if you may recollect, somewhere in 2014, the university teachers declared a similar strike, lasting five weeks, which was to compel the government to release the book and research allowances.

In the same year, the teachers and education workers union warned the NDC administration it might also join the strike bandwagon if issues about their conditions of service were not addressed.

Besides, about 3,000 midwives and nurses in the country also threatened to occupy the finance and health ministries if the Mahama government failed to pay their allowances and salaries.

But despite public outcry for the erstwhile NDC government to address the pressing issues in the public sector, especially, the health area, the Mahama administration blatantly failed to act.

Suffice it to state that the doctors were incensed by former President Mahama’s lack of concern and vowed to intensify their strike action by withdrawing emergency services.

So, who says that the NDC and His Excellency Ex-President Mahama have the wellbeing of an ordinary Ghanaian worker at heart?

In the grand scheme of things, policy options for enhancing human development through work have to be built around three broad clusters: (1) creating more work opportunities to expand work choices, (2) ensuring workers’ well-being to reinforce a positive link between work and human development and (3) targeted actions to address the challenges of specific groups and contexts.

More so, an agenda for action to build momentum for change is needed pursuing a three-pillar approach—a New Social Contract, a Global Deal and the Decent Work Agenda (UNDP, 2015).

“Work is intrinsic to human development. From a human development perspective, the notion of work is broader and deeper than that of jobs or employment alone” (HDR 2015).

As a matter of fact and observation, when positive, work provides benefits beyond material wealth and fosters community, knowledge, strengthening dignity and inclusion. Nearly a billion workers in agriculture, 450 million entrepreneurs, 80 million workers in health and education, 53 million domestic workers, 970 million voluntary workers contribute to human progress globally (HDR).

Over the years, work has contributed considerably to impressive progress in human development. However, the progress has been uneven with significant human deprivations and large human potentials remain unused (UNDP 2015).

In sum, we hope and pray that the government and the UTAG will end the unfortunate impasse sooner rather than later.

Columnist: Kwaku Badu