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Labor’s demonstrations reflect citizens’ anger and frustrations with rapidly deteriorating economic and financial conditions


It is now a familiar scene; Ghanaian workers under the leadership of their various unions taking to the streets of major cities across the nation to protest harsh economic and financial conditions and the government’s indifference to their problems.

While the demonstrations have been viciously denounced by government agents as being overly political, designed to give the opposition an edge in the upcoming elections, organized labor responded trenchantly that the living conditions of its members had deteriorating precipitously, and the only way to focus government’s attention on the issue was to embark on demonstrations.

The demonstrations were a repetition of history; indeed since the dawn of the industrial revolution when manufacturing replaced agriculture as the mainstay of economies across Europe, organized labor has fought tooth and nail to protect the interests of the worker.

Ghana’s labor movement has a rich history beginning in 1919 when it initiated the first industrial action against the British colonial government. Ever since, the movement has gained in strength and numbers—at last count, organized labor has approximately 350, 000 trade unions within a total workforce of 9 million. Be that as it may, when it sits at the negotiating table with government officials to discuss issues of importance to its members, labor clearly has an advantage.

Organized Labor may constitute a small fraction of the general population, but whenever it sings, the government listens intently. Why? Because, any prolonged industrial action taken by Labor can have an adverse effect on the national economy.

It is common knowledge that sometimes certain fiscal policies taken by government tend to anger Labor and this goes all the way back to the colonial era. It is no wonder therefore that recent economic policies have sent the movement into a frenzy, an anger that have been translated into street demonstrations. Ghanaians are being asked to dig deep into their pockets and shell out more money for electricity, water and petroleum products.

The consequence of prices increases is always the inevitable rise in the cost of living. Labor’s reaction to sudden hikes in prices of basic human necessities has been swift. One did not expect the movement to stay mute as its members chafe under difficult economic conditions. The demonstrations were broadly calculated to send a strong message to the government.

No matter how one view organized Labor and its intentions, members of the organization are our fathers and mothers, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters who have families to feed, clothe and shelter. It therefore goes without saying that whatever ails Labor also ails the general population.

Labor’s foes and detractors would insist that its activities are geared towards self-preservation, but in reality, Labor activities and decisions tend to reflect the interests and agonies of the general population.

By and large, Labor’s primary goal is to bring industrial growth and economic development to the country. So, when it takes to the streets to protest the high cost of living, it is not doing so in a vacuum; it is parroting the frustrations and pent-up anger of millions of Ghanaians.



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