News / Economy

Ghana Labor Groups Protest Poor Economy

FILE - Ghana labor unions want the government to act to halt depreciation of Ghana's currency, the cedi.
FILE - Ghana labor unions want the government to act to halt depreciation of Ghana's currency, the cedi.
Joana Mantey

The Ghanaian labor front has been boisterous lately, with thousands of workers marching to protest the poor economy and demand better living conditions. 

Five separate demonstrations were organized against Ghana's government in July alone. The largest, organized by the Trades Union Congress, brought thousands of marchers into the streets of all 10 regional capitals. More protests are planned.

A Ghanaian worker at a protest march organized by the Trades Union Congress of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, 24th July 2014. (Joana Mantey/VOA News)A Ghanaian worker at a protest march organized by the Trades Union Congress of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, 24th July 2014. (Joana Mantey/VOA News)
x
A Ghanaian worker at a protest march organized by the Trades Union Congress of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, 24th July 2014. (Joana Mantey/VOA News)
A Ghanaian worker at a protest march organized by the Trades Union Congress of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, 24th July 2014. (Joana Mantey/VOA News)

A major catalyst for the labor unrest has been the falling value of the local currency. Over the past year, the cedi has lost more than 30 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, sparking a significant rise in the cost of living.

In "this country, we have a very weak productive base,” one worker said during a recent protest. “If you have a weak productive base and your currency depreciates that fast … it just escalates prices of goods and services.”

Ghana is reaping increased revenue from offshore oil fields that went into production in 2010. But about 50 percent of the country’s budget still comes from donor partners. Those partners have withheld money for two years because of government overspending.

Domestic sources have become the only source of revenue, creating a shortfall that must be supplemented by borrowing.

Government workers’ wages frozen

To control the national debt, Ghana’s government recently had to freeze public-sector wages and impose new taxes on items such as telephones. 

Richard Ampaabeng, general secretary of the public services workers union, summed up workers’ concerns.

"Our issue has to do with the currency,” Ampaabeng said. “… If the cedi continues to behave the way it is going, I am afraid we don't have future.  Employment, as you know, is dwindling. Salaries are also dwindling."

The economic downturn is affecting others outside of government, too. Some private steel-producing companies operating in Temam, for example, have threatened to shut down over incremental hikes in utility prices, which have pushed up production costs.

"Most of our workers are being made redundant because government is not paying for infrastructural development,” said Pious Quainoo, general secretary of the Construction Building Materials Workers Union. “Most factories are closing down.

“We want government to listen to workers,” he said. “We want government to make a change."

Demonstrators are asking government to act to halt the economy’s decline. They’ve petitioned the government to reverse the currency’s depreciation, revamp the railway sector and curb the costs of petroleum and other living expenses.

Trim government jobs?

One way of ending the protests is for government to cut down on public-service employment, said Ghanaian labor consultant Austin Gamey. The government spends an estimated almost 70 percent of tax revenue on salaries alone. 

"In an age of rapidly changing technologies … we may not need too many hands doing the same thing,” Gamey said. He added that “human resource management policies and procedures must be properly oiled to be in tandem with the labor laws."

Meanwhile, Ghana's finance minister, Seth Terkper, rejects claims that the economy is in crisis. He said the challenges facing the country have been blown out of proportion.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kwei Quartey from: Kumasi
August 02, 2014 1:52 AM
" . . . Ghana's finance minister, Seth Terkper, rejects claims that the economy is in crisis. He said the challenges facing the country have been blown out of proportion." You can't possibly be serious
In Response

by: Joana Mantey from: Accra
August 05, 2014 2:37 AM
Kwei just find out what the finance minister told reporters at the mid year budget review in parliament.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9240
JPY
USD
119.41
GBP
USD
0.6618
CAD
USD
1.2155
INR
USD
63.567

Rates may not be current.