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Opinions of Saturday, 29 December 2007

Columnist: Acheampong, Thomas Owoahene

Workers' Strikes in Ghana - A way Forward.

I have lived through the administrations of Gen. I. K. Acheampong, Gen.F.W.K. Akuffo, H. E., President. Dr. H. Limann, H. E, President. Flt. Lt.J. J. Rawlings, and now through this administration, under President J.A. Kuffour. During each of these administrations, there were [and still are] countless number of workers' strikes organized by various professional bodies in Ghana, all in demand for better salaries and remunerations.Recently, it was NAGRAT, then young medical doctors, nurses, etc,etc.

In fact workers' strikes have simply become annual rituals we celebrate two or more times under every political administration in this country. It has become, more or less, the status quo for workers' unions and other professional bodies in the country to press home their demands;most often for increment in wages and/or salaries. Thus when prices of goods and services go up the "salary/wages" scale (s) must adjust to reach an equilibrium. Anything less is good grounds for strike from work or duties.

On the scale of social justice, such a situation is simply reasonable and fair. I don't think, however, that this perennial problem can be resolved only by salary/wage increments as these bodies tend to portray each time they embark on strikes. Rather I think the solution to this problem lies in dealing with the financial corruption which has shamefully engulfed the entire nation. Through dubious means, bribery, whom-you-know attitudes,individual greed,tribalism,sheer political sabotage etc, Ghanaians have come to know better how to use money than how to make fair and decent income. We, Ghanaians of today, know more about what money can do more than what to do to make honest money. The problem with us, therefore, is that no amount of money, earned as salaries or wages, would be enough to meet our daily socio-economic needs simply because of our way of life and the social system we live in. We live in a system where we always have to spend a chunk of our meagre

salaries and wages to "pay our way through" the daily socio-economic demands in forms of briberies. We should remember that indecent monies will always go the same indecent ways by which they came.

Like Ghandi said "the world has enough for everybody's need but not enough for anybody's greed." Ghana has enough for every Ghanaian's need, but greed and corruption have made it impossible for many of us to live on our incomes and wages, thus finding other means, be it fair or foul to supplement our wages. I can't single out any individual Ghanaian, or institution, or any group of Ghanians, as not being involved in this bribery and corruption canker in Ghana. All these professional bodies who participate in these annual strike rituals are all part of the corruption chain. The government, the traditional rulers, ministers of churches and mosques,politicians, the judiciary, the police and other law enforcement agencies,students and farmers, we are all very corrupt and gleefully boast of it. It therefore behoves all of us to make a concerted effort and sacrifices, groups and individuals alike, to try and solve this problem. No one particular government, in my estimation, can help us in any meaningful way.

Some political leaders and ministers of state, past and present, have been known to have been involved in all forms of dubious and shaddy deeds to crystallize bribbery and corruption in this country. Some judges and state prosecutors have been known to be the brain behind some big-time bribbery schemes in this country. Some ministers of churches, mosques, shrines and other places of worship have been caught red-handed in all forms of criminal acts and corruptions of grievous consequences to the nation. Some doctors, nurses, and other paramedics demand and take bribes at their work places before they would render services to their patients.Some university professors, heads of institutions, and some of their workers have been known to have demanded monies, sex, and other incentives before admitting students to their schools and faculties. Some traditional leaders are nonetheless exempted from this shameful practices. Some of these leaders have sold particular pieces of land to more than ten buyers bringing about uncalled-for arbitrations in courts.

Some of them have been caught with narcortics across our borbers, etc,. However, the worse of all is the behavior and practices of some, if not all, of our police, customs, prisons, military, and other security and law enforcement officers. Some officers in these professions, by my own unscientific polls, contribute to about seventy percent [70%], if not more, of the rate and spate of bribbery and corruption in this country. They have been found to have been involved in petit- bribberies to murder, to armed robberies, to dealing in narcortics, in this country. The behaviors of some professionals, coupled with ignorance in some Ghanaians, have in no small ways contributed to economic, social, political, and religious hardships in Ghana. In fact everyone is to blame for our corrupt society of today because the giver of bribes is in no way less corrupt than the receiver of bribes.

The way forward, therefore, is not a matter of striking from work and demanding higher salaries and remunerations. These actions only address the symptoms of this canker while leaving the causative agent intact. No!

Rather, we need to change our ways of thinking and our ways of doing things. We need to embrace truth and be honest to ourselves and loyal to Ghana before we can make any positive impact on this social canker. It's for all of us to act and not only any individual administration nor government [though governments have greater role to play in this]. These professional bodies can be paid 10, 000,000 cedis a week and yet they will go on strike the very next year still asking for better salaries.

Ghana's problem is not about the wages nor the salaries we receive at the close of the month.It's rather about the spate of bribery and corruption [which go on every minute] in Ghana. It's about our total disregard for law and order in Ghana. How many of us pay taxes to the central government on our goods and services? You and I try to evade taxes at all levels and yet we expect the leaderships to generate income enough to take care of our socio-economic needs as a nation. I believe it's time we had a leader who would not borrow from any so-called donor nations but "force" Ghanaians to eat from their own pot.

All professional bodies must be willing to die a little for Ghana and help to weed out corrupt professors and other professionals from their midst or they would never have enough salaries to motivate them to teach nor perform their duties. They should disabuse their minds of this form of action as a way of making their voices heard. Instead they should realise that they have in various ways contributed to Ghana's woes and plight as a Nation. The solution to their complaints must as well come from them.

By Thomas Owoahene Acheampong [pawa909@yahoo.com] -Atlanta, Georgia- USA

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.