The May Day celebrations are over. The speeches have been made. The workers have been celebrated for contributing to the development of mother Ghana even as they continue to wallow in poverty while the country marches towards HIPC once again. The minimum wage is GH¢8 per day! With the smallest ball of Kenkey at one Ghana cedi, a man with a wife and two kids can afford barely one round meal of Kenkey and fried fishlets with pepper. The problem is even worse if he went to work that day and paid for ‘trotro.’ A basic school teacher takes home about GH¢830 - barely a tenth of the GH¢7000.00 his MP takes home, which is more than twice what a Doctor takes home. This is in sharp contrast with the situation in the United States of America where most Doctors make more than their lawmakers. It is baffling that in Ghana, what an MP gets as his or her end of service benefit, after serving one term of four years, is outrageously higher than that of a teacher who has worked for 40 years. It is ridiculous listening one MP recently suggest that MPs are poor and underpaid. Really? This is incredible. It is disturbing the kind of difficulties Ghanaian workers go through on daily basis. Sadly not much attention is paid to their plight.
In fact, there are no laws and infrastructure to support workers who get injured on the job. It was shocking to see that, a nurse who had a motor cycle accident during work was given nothing. And can also talk of the fire-fighter who died and had no benefit paid to survivors! The least said about military and police officers who die or sustain serious injuries in their line of duty, the better. In any case, one finds it a bit strange that in all the speeches to mark May Day, there was not a single mention of the unemployment rate. This is ample demonstration that even those at the helm of affairs do not have any idea about it. Elsewhere, this will constitute a strong basis for labour agitations. But wonderfully enough, there is peace on Ghana's labour front.
It is not far fetched to think that, it is in acknowledgement of this notorious fact that, President Mahama at this year's National May Day durbar in Wa, had this to say to organized labour, quote" Accept my commendation for your part in growing a formidable constituency needed for consensus building towards peaceful co-existence and national development." unquote Indeed. The only effective Trade Union is that of the governing classes. The idea that a worker can support a family on GH¢8 a day is outrageous to say the least. The fact that politicians are paid more than doctors and teachers is evidence of white-collar pillaging of national resources for the benefit of the few.
Again, the fact that newly qualified nurses and teachers wait for more than a year to be paid is a scandal. While these outrages continue, the nation dishonors its motto of "Freedom and Justice". For there is no justice in the current situation. Let the nation together, work for the day when the working people can be truly celebrated. God bless the working people of Ghana.
BY DR KOBINA ARTHUR KENNEDY, A PHYSICIAN INVOLVED IN POLITICS AND DEVELOPMENT