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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8812
    JPY
    USD
    112.18
    GBP
    USD
    0.6939
    CAD
    USD
    1.3961
    INR
    USD
    68.436

    Rates may not be current.