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Opinions of Thursday, 28 March 2013

Columnist: Ernesto Yeboah

Class struggle, labour agitations and the festival of strikes in Ghana

by Enersto Yeboah, Deputy National Youth Organiser, CPP

Our predatory ruling NDC and NPP elites, just a couple of weeks ago rewarded themselves handsomely with quadrupled salaries – some vintage remuneration package that sums up four years arrears, not to speak of newly introduced incentives like rent allowances and vehicle loan facilities with an aggregate value of one billion old Ghana Cedis.

Obviously, it is only with a literally docile and disunited working class that our political governors can have their way. Boldly as ever, they take away everything they desire from the public purse then brazenly tell Ghanaians in the face that what they are taking from the national purse is even ‘peanut’ – and in the second part of the tale, all of us are expected to “meekly and mildly” gobble their verbal acid down our throats as normal.

It would be recalled that a few months ago doctors went on strike aggrieved at their conditions of service and perceived imbalances in the Single Spine Salary Structure. They were lambasted as greedy bastards, wicked and insensitive of the plight of ordinary Ghanaians.

Government communicators rightly interpreted the strike action as misplaced since NDC government or the elite class was not going to be directly affected by the strike action in contrast with the ordinary people who would bear the brunt of whatever strike or work-to-rule action with death from lack of health facilities.

At this point, the selfish character of the indigenous bourgeois class in Ghana is brought into sharp focus. All workers struggle’s are infiltrated by the NDC and neo-colonialists and misdirected to fight in isolation, while avoiding socialism. This is to ensure the domination of the neo-colonial NDC and their elitist allies with their selfish material lust for opulence without considering the masses of Ghanaian citizens at all.

This exclusion of socialism from the labour press expresses the narrow understanding of the unity of forces, the similarities and contradictions that exists on the labour front, and the obvious lack of its association with the broader masses of our people within the informal and unemployed categories in society.

Clearly, what the NDC government has done is to distinctly cultivate this lack of unity amongst the working classes and their loss of touch with the broader masses. They do this by ideologically and constitutionally repressing Nkrumahism and socialism with the indemnity clause in the 1992 Constitution, and to exploit these distinctions and conditions for political and economic gain.

Our teachers who are the latest entrants into the strike festival are also demanding for their pound of flesh and are being met with similar arguments as raised against doctors by government communicators. They insist on the wickedness of teachers for abandoning their responsibilities at a time when innocent school children need them so much.

They have argued that teachers should learn to sacrifice in this period of national crisis when the nation needs so much but has so little. This seems to be working as many have conveniently forgotten the recent action by the political class to award themselves four times their salaries with four years arrears and a retirement package they have chosento label ‘ex gratia’. What we see here is a clear case of heightening class interest leading to class conflict especially between the indigenous bourgeois and the working class of our society.

Although this cannot be presented as the overall picture as these scenarios may suggest, let me state that the analysis here is only situated within the context of government workers, the political elites and the sprawling working masses; attention is drawn to these class circles because they are obvious and have direct, diverse and indirect ramifications for the wider society.

A food chain scenario partially exists. Lion eats Fox, Fox eats Dog; Dog eats Cat; Cat eats Hen; Hen eats Ant but the only animal here that does not seem to have an interest in eating anything is the Ant, and that is abnormal.

Ghana’s class conflict is predominantly evident amongst our political elite (NDC/NPP) and government workers. Our political elites do not pay electricity bills, water bills, telephone bills, they do not use public transport, the petit bourgeois class, predominantly made up of the business class and professional civil servants have also learnt to buy their way through the crisis; they have resolved the problem of unreliable public transport system by buying their private cars; water shortage by contracting private water sales companies to fill their water reservoirs; security by hiring their private security guards to protect their property; unreliable power supply by purchasing a generator.

They don’t really care who or which party governs the country; for them politics is just a game and they only join one party or the other out of fashion or other fanciful considerations all which would neither take away the substance of their personal interest.

The indigenous and petit bourgeois classes avert these contradictions while the workers suffer from increased transport costs and a hostile public transportation environment, lack of water and rapidly increasing prices for pipe water. He suffers increasing incidents of armed robbery and traumatisation, daily light off and increasing costs for electricity, without any increase in salaries to help manage the increased costs of all goods and services accompanying the increased petrol price.

One would have thought that the sprawling masses who are the source of excessive tax revenues would be on the streets with massive demonstrations. Because of the lack of socialist leadership, they are more preoccupied with concerns of food, clothing, and shelter.

Significantly, the Police Service seems to have realised so quickly the volatile conditions for political instability and widespread violence and unrest and have adequately prepared to subdue any such insurrection by increasing public presence at vantage points. But the sprawling masses seem far away soaked by the opium frenzy of partisan NDC-NPP politics over who caused what.

They have shown exceeding signs of gratitude on the hundredth day having been subjected to the gruelling torture of all imagined crisis after 99 days. They are like spectators at a sports stadium watching and cheering on their respective teams on, not knowing exactly what is at stake other than the trophy to be lifted, forgetting the fact of the tickets they bought and what the monies accrued is to be used for.

In this state, the exploitation of the working class by the indigenous bourgeois class would continue, and that is to say an ignorant mass is inimical to the interest of the working class and advantageous to the indigenous bourgeois and capitalist classes.

To avert this, workers must defeat NDC and NPP inspired fragmentation with socialism and organize themselves into one united active force, connecting with the masses of our country at every level and working with them to ensure their interests with an unstoppable demand for the national resources and socialism.

They must be informed about where we are as a nation and essentially what has brought us to this destination; they must understand the link between ownership of our resources and the material wellbeing of all citizens. It is only within this context that their joblessness can be explained; the energy crisis, water crises, labour agitations and all the concrete problems that confront them can be explained.

If they know for instance that 97% of our gold resource is controlled by foreign interest, they would demand nationalization from the political elite and explanation; if they know that 86.5% of our recent oil find is controlled by foreign interest, a similar demand and questions would be posed. With this consciousness they would begin a collective agitation for the nationalisation of all our resources—a demand that would lead to a process/programme of re-negotiating all our resource arrangements with foreign companies.

Until this happens socialist parties like the Convention People’s Party (CPP) must continue to intensify their efforts in educating and organizing the people for the nationalization of Ghana’s resources and socialism.

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