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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9118
JPY
USD
124.31
GBP
USD
0.6420
CAD
USD
1.3048
INR
USD
64.136

Rates may not be current.