Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ghana TUC Calls Police Bluff…”We Will Demonstrate, Police Or No Police”

Secretary General of the Ghana Trade Union Congress Kofi
Date published: July 22, 2014
By Bernice Bessey with Bureau files

AFTER REJECTING the call by the government to put on hold the intended strike and nationwide street protest against unbearable economic situation in the country, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is now on a collision course with the Ghana Police Service, which has stated publicly that it cannot provide men to police the intended demonstrations.

The Acting Director of Public Affairs at the Ghana Police Service, DSP Cephas Arthur was quoted by Joy FM   as saying that: “We will not be in the position to provide adequate protection for the demonstrators, as well as other people, who are going about their duties peacefully, and so we suggested to them to hold the demonstration on a regional basis to enable the police mobilize enough personnel to provide security and protection for the demonstration.”

But Secretary General of TUC, Mr. Kofi Asamoah is warning the police to put its house in order and provide men to protect the demonstrators on Thursday throughout the country.  “It is important that nobody put any spokes in the wheels of the determined workers who want to express their frustrations about the worsening socio-economic conditions in the country,” he warned, adding “I really do not see their problem.

For instance, when it’s May Day, we do it in all regions and the police ensure that all necessary security measures are done without any problem.” Meanwhile, before the police and the TUC could resolve the impasse and ensure smooth demonstration on Thursday, Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) had already hit the streets protesting against the economic hardship in the country, which they say could result in the collapse of industries and subsequent loss of jobs.

The demonstration, which took place in Tema yesterday, saw about six hundred members of the union holding various placards warning the government to salvage the economy.  Mr. Kofi Asamoah last week Friday addressed a news conference in Accra to announce the simultaneous demonstrations across the country on Thursday July 24, 2014, to protest against the deteriorating economic condition in the country.

He quoted Article 36 Clause One of the 1992 Constitution which states that: ‘The State shall take all necessary action to ensure that the national economy is managed in such a manner as to maximize the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Ghana and to provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy’.

Mr. Kofi Asamoah regretted that the government in its policy formulation and implementation has breached these conditions entrenched in the constitution by constantly increasing utility tariffs, prices of petroleum products and enforcing other negative measures that are in conflict with the social life of the people.  “The economic situation has moved from bad to worse and it is deteriorating by the day. There seem to be no end in sight,” he noted.

He indicated that current trend of the economy was suffocating businesses, heighten unemployment rate, loss of jobs, increase commodity prices, energy deficiency among others.  Mr. Asamoah also touched on National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is in financial distress and Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) that is at the mercy of Bulk Distributions Companies, and the National Pension Regulatory Authority among others.

He said Organized Labour and the working population of Ghana, therefore, demand immediate action by the government to halt the depreciation of the cedi and rising cost of living, to bring on stream the gas pipeline, efficiency in the production and distribution of electricity, revive TOR and address corruption in the government.

Meanwhile the minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu last Friday issued a statement appealing to the TUC to exercise restraint. The following is the full press statement; Government’s attention has been drawn to a declaration of a work boycott (strike action) on Thursday 24th July, 2014 at a press conference addressed by the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on behalf of organized labour.

Government appeals to organized labour to reconsider their decision and engage government in constructive dialogue and consultations with a view to addressing the issues raised within the constraints of the national budget and the overall performance of the economy.

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