Reduce over-reliance on imports to stabilise cedi – TUC boss tells Ghanaians

The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, has urged Ghanaians to reduce the over-reliance on imports and consume what is produced in the country as a major step towards stabilizing the cedi against major international currencies.

He explained that the depreciation of the cedi at this monumental scale of about 250 per cent from 2016 to date represented a huge decline in the living standards of the Ghanaian worker.

He said that had come about “because of our over-reliance on imported goods” whose prices were directly affected by the exchange rate of the cedi in terms of the major international currencies such as the US dollar and the pound sterling.

Dr Baah made the call during the 2024 National May Day Parade at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday. It was on the theme: “Election 2024: The Role of Workers and Social Partners in Securing Peaceful Elections for National Development”.

In attendance were President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, leaders of the Ghana Employers Association, representatives of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and members of the diplomatic corps.

The occasion attracted workers from across the country wearing branded T-shirts of their various unions and companies. Others carried placards, some of which read: “Domestic Workers Are Pillars of the Economy”, “Exempt HIV/AIDS Commodities from Taxes and Levies”, “Save Energy Today for Brighter Tomorrow”, and Our Disabilities Don’t Define Our Work”.

Dr Baah noted that the current exchange rate of GH¢14 to $1, compared to about GH¢4 to $1 in 2016, meant that workers who earned a monthly salary of GH¢1,000 in 2016 were taking home the equivalent of $250 in 2016, but today the same GH¢1,000 was $71.

This, coupled with the inflation rate of 25 per cent and over 30 per cent of interest rate on loans, had made the high cost of living unbearable for the ordinary Ghanaian and compounded the problem of the Ghanaian worker’s ability to meet basic necessities such us food, school fees and rent advance.

The TUC Secretary-General said younger people were completing school, especially from tertiary education institutions, without finding jobs “and the trouble is that there seemed to be no end of this socio-economic hardship in sight”.

He said the relatively high wage increases the union negotiated for their members last two years had lost their real values, “so comrades, we have a lot of work to do to protect the working people of Ghana”.

Peaceful election
Dr Baah said it was incumbent on all Ghanaians to work to protect the enviable peace the country had been enjoying over the years, noting that “the peace we are enjoying is priceless so we should never allow partisan politics to destroy it”.

He said it was for the same reason that the executive committee of the TUC selected the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, for its special May Day Award in recognition of his sterling leadership of the Ghana Police Service and his invaluable contribution to peace and security in all parts of the country since his appointment in 2021.

He said during his tenure, Ghana had held three by-elections and, in all cases, they had been peaceful. Dr Baah said labour recently held discussions with the various state institutions in charge of holding elections, especially the Electoral Commission (EC), and the police to brief them about their preparations where they all indicated that they were ready for a peaceful election.

He also said the labour front had some concerns about the activities of the SSNIT and, therefore, called on President Akufo-Addo for dialogue about their concerns.

May Day

he day is marked as a holiday to celebrate the contributions of workers to national development and nation-building. The May Day celebration has been a platform for workers to directly advocate better conditions of service and bring up other work-related issues.

This year’s event was marked on the theme: “Election 2024: The Role of Workers and Social Partners in Securing Peaceful Elections for National Development”. The organisation of the celebration, which was led by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), saw workers in Accra converge on the Black Star Square.

The atmosphere at the Black Star Square was filled with excitement as the workers, without any restrictions, interacted with one another. In all, about 43 workers from the various labour unions were honoured for their distinguished and meritorious services.
They were presented with citations.

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