The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, has called for the suspension of taxes on fuel until prices are stabilised.
He said the high prices of fuel, with negative effect on food and commodity prices, was impacting workers’ wages badly and affecting the standard of living.
“We, therefore, call on Government to suspend all taxes and all levies on petrol and diesel and LPG concurrently until the international price of crude oil and the value of the Cedi has stabilised. This will bring down prices of fuel products and ease the burden on Ghanaians.”
He appealed to President Akufo-Addo on Sunday at the May Day parade held at the Black Star Square in Accra to intervene and improve the ordinary Ghanaian worker’s purchasing power.
Dr Baah called on Government to, as a matter of urgency, review the single spine pay policy and pay workers living wage.
“As we speak, minimum wage earners in Ghana are currently receiving 13 cedis 53 pesewas for a whole day’s work or 365 cedis for a whole month’s work. This is below the 1.9-dollar international poverty line at the current exchange rate…salaries have lost over a third of their real value as prices of essential commodities, including food and fuel continue to increase on daily basis.’’
He lamented over the “poor structuring” of the salary of Public Sector employees, which he said also affected pensions particularly, those not captured under the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
On his part, President Akufo-Addo, outlined measures by Government to help the economy recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measures include the introduction of the electronic transaction levy (E-Levy), which he said was necessary to mobilise enough revenue for national development.
“Over the past years in particular, Government has implemented several policies and programmes, all in an attempt to hasten economic recovery from the ravages of Covid 19. We’ve introduced measures to improve fiscal consolidation and ensure debt sustainability, which are critical to achieving micro-economic stability in the short to medium term. These measures such as the passage of the E-Levy Bill, have not been introduced in isolation, they have come on the back of a revenue loss of 13.1 billion cedis and the increased unbudgeted expenditure of 142 billion cedis….”
He promised cutting 30 percent of “discretionary expenditures” of the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, reduction of salaries of political appointees for the rest of the year and reducing fuel coupons by 50 percent among a host of other austerity measures.
He dismissed suggestions of Government not being sensitive to the plight of workers and assured of continuous protection of incomes and livelihoods of workers regardless of COVID-19.
The President promised to help revamp the private sector, which suffered more during the peak of the Covid -19.
He vowed to make capital more accessible and reduce the cost of doing business, improve access to credit and many more to the sector.
Touching on the issue of workers’ wages, President Akufo-Addo, said a committee had been set up and was reviewing the single-spine salary structure.
“Following the National Labour Conference at Kwahu, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the Tripad Partners have set up as of Tuesday, 26th April a Technical Committee to review the Single-Spine Pay Policy and advice Government accordingly.”
He encouraged all workers to continue to observe the Covid-19 protocols despite the easing of restrictions and urged all to get vaccinated.
The occasion was used to award 59 workers for their contributions to national development.
International Workers Day, also referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes observed by various labour unions and movements worldwide.
It falls on the first day in the month of May every year.
In Ghana, it is observed as a holiday with a national parade.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Protecting Jobs and Incomes in the Era of Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond.”