General News of Saturday, 19 July 2014
"I am available. We can meet. Even this evening. Anywhere. We can engage with labour" that is the passionate appeal by the Minister of Employment Haruna Iddrisu appealing to labour to call off an intended nationwide strike on Thursday.
The workers are protesting what they say is the high cost of living attended by rising food prices, falling currency, hikes in utility prices worsened by load shedding regime.
At a press conference, Friday, Secretary General of the TUC Kofi Asamoah announced a nationwide strike on Thursday July 24, 2014.
“All workers including those of you in the media, formal and informal are to stay away from work and converge at designated locations in Accra and other regional capitals to demonstrate," he announced.
Kofi Asamoah further demanded of government to, with immediate effect, reduce the prices of fuel and work on the depreciating currency which has had a debilitating effect on Ghanaians.
The strike, if successful will ground the country to a halt, at least on Thursday and would affect productivity in no small way. It would be the first time, in many decades for a nationwide strike by workers.
Government is unhappy at the turn of event and is making overtures at the workers for them to rescind their decision.
Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu told Joy News' Evans Mensah, labour must jaw-jaw and not war-war.
"We solidarise with the issues raised by Labour but are "appealing to them, a sit down strike and a boycott is not the way to go."
"You cannot have an omelet without breaking an egg," he observed, while assuring that government is putting the necessary interventions in place to fix the economy.
He named a gas infrastructure project which is being developed with an $800 million investment all in an attempt to fix the economy.
"In the foreseeable future the concerns of the workers will be resolved," he promised, adding, "it will be a substantial loss to the state" if the strike were allowed to happen.
He said labour "ought to appreciate the constraints of the budget" adding, "government cannot immediately fix the grievances of labour."
The minister wanted a quick dialogue with labour, promising, his doors are wide opened for a meeting later this evening.
But labour is unmoved by the appeals. Justice Yankson, Deputy Secretary General of the Ghana Medical Association told Joy News labour has "gotten to its maximum limit. The strike will not be called off today and will not be called off tomorrow."
He said the strike is just to tell government that "enough is enough." "The people of Ghana keep suffering" and the talk and dialogue which government is offering will not solve their problem," he added.
The strike is just the beginning.