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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.