Yesterday was May Day. A special day set aside to celebrate the efforts of the many gallant workers dotted around the globe.
The day was well celebrated in Ghana under the theme,”Ghana 60 Years On:Mobilizing for Future Through the Creation of Decent Jobs”.
Infact, as I stayed glued to Ghana Television (GTV) taking a glimpse of the all colourful celebration,the drama of enthusiasm displayed by the red-blooded Ghanaian workers never seized to amaze me.
As the joy of celebration flowed,the usual lamentations of the Ghanaian workers showed;placards with inscriptions clearly read:”Salary increment can wait but arrears now; Mr . President, reduce the overtime/corporate tax;save GBC now;Improve conditions of service,” and so forth…Interesting, right?Do I need to tell you these placards displayed legitimate concerns?No,I don’t!
Even more captivating was the president’s May Day speech.It’s a speech of the century.It clearly delineate the sad situation of the Ghanaian work environment.His speech writers are really doing a great job.
The president was right when in telling the untold story of the present day and past Ghanaian workers he noted that,some of those workers of old would not recognise the present day practices at our workside.”Ghanaian artisans, for example, used to have an enviable reputation around the region.Our Carpenters, masons,mechanics,plumbers,
He further provoked our thoughts by asking a rather rethorical question,”how come that old,very old classroom blocks withstand storms and heavy rainfall,whilst the roofs of nearby,newly built ones are ripped off regularly?Your answer I guess,is as good as mine.(Political contracts).
The president sought to justify the reasons why the workers of today are badly off:low wages,inadequate housing,poor working conditions,disappointing retirement benefits(not exgratia) as compared to their counterparts in the past.
He preached the gospel of CHANGE OF ATTITUDE.
I agree with the president.But Mr . President,those past Ghanaian tailors,carpenters,artisans,
The British envied this rich indigenous knowledge,came in and we, especially the political class helped them to destroy that system. Indigeneous knowledge is long gone.We don’t respect such people any longer.We are now armed with the almighty book and pen education,and what we see is the underproductive workforce out there.We award contracts to cronies and political associates,and receive our shameful share of the booty.
But amidst all the shortfalls,we keep saying those of you with the power must make committed efforts to decolonise our educational system.Let’s edit and overhaul the curriculum.Let’s place premium on the technical and vocational education of our fathers of old. Our certificates must reflect our work output and attitude. Well, that is just by the way.This may be a topic for another day.
For the avoidance of any doubt,I’m not by this trying to dispute what the president said. Inasmuch as I concur with the president,I think much needs to be done to bring out the best out of the gallant Ghanaian worker.
Indeed,I followed keenly the events surrounding the May Day celebration in our dear country. It should be said that what attracted me most was the groaning, lamentation and wailing of the Ghanaian worker for better condition of service. The workers were making a plea before the politicians to improve their pay cheques in order to improve their conditions in and after service.
The condition of working and retiring from active public service without a decent home. The condition of working and retiring from active public service without a meaningful means of transport nor an assured means of financing an assured future for their wards. We have to chase the ruling class with strikes most of the time before we even get our legitimate due. Unfavourable policies and legislations-frustrations are the order of the day.
Have you ever wondered why the political class of today are never perturbed over such issues unlike we in public service? Today, the gender minister would tell Ghanaian workers,”Change your attitudes, if you want more salary”.I guess she had changed her attitude and that is why she never did mandatory national service. After just four years, her life will change forever.
Sad to say; we live in a county where there seem to be an unnoticeable class struggle between the political and working class.The working class does all the work to keep the system running and the political(ruling)class ride on that,over tax them on their efforts and enrich themselves and their generations.
When the salaries of CEO’s of major public corporations leaked,many were those who wondered why the one month salary of a CEO could quadruple the biennial salary of a teacher, nurse,security officer just to mention a few.Maybe.Just maybe,you don’t know that these CEO’S are the financial sponsors behind the success of political parties and politicians. It’s simply pay back time.
The political class have devised something called exgratia. This exgratia is payed after every four years.You and I have to work for sixty years before we receive an iota of what they receive as fours years “thank you for stealing us”.Apologies!
This class struggle has drawn a clear distinction between those who can afford to live ostentatiously profligate lifestyles and drive in flashy cars whilst you and I live in abject poverty and struggle to catch non existing public transport.We retire and still reside in rented homes whilst they build many mansions they can’t even occupy.They have houses all over the country.
To do a quarter of what they can do after four years in sixty years,you’ve to throw away your God given conscious and steal whiles in active public service.We call it corruption.
Unarguable, politicians in the halve of the legislature and executive especially,engage in “large scale” cronyism.They make intertemporal choices through the polices and laws they make. They make laws to secure their investments and fortunes after office. The powerful business men sponsor their political fortunes and they in turn pay back by favouring them through legislations and policies.
Surprising enough, at every least opportunity to criticise the system,we would rather defend, justify and make a case strong enough for the political(ruling) class with the hope of gaining their favour to get to the top. But once we get the opportunity to climb up there, we forget that we were down “here” before. Afterall, the opportunity has come to “chop some”.Organised labour and labour unions are rendered impotent in standing for the worker by meagre brown or is it white envelopes!
Maybe.Just maybe, this May Day may mark the beginning of the day when the political class will see the working class as a valuable asset with a rightful due.When the working class will realise their enviable position in our nation’s struggle for progress.When we will altogether as the president said work on changing our attitude and see the system as our collective own.A time when we will develop and spread the fortunes of the land pari passu and pull along every meaningful Ghanaian to that path of posterity and self progress.
Happy May Day and may God bless us all.
The writer is a teacher by profession, a freelance journalist, youth advocate, blogger/writer and a student at the University of Ghana Business School pursuing Bachelor of Science in Administration with a major in Public Administration.
Read more of his works on (ananpansah-ab.blogspot.com).
By ANANPANSAH,B ABRAHAM(AB)
(The Village Writer)