ACCRA , July 09, GNA – Over 700 members of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) on Thursday, demonstrated through the streets of Tema against the economic hardship in the country.
The demonstrators dressed in red and black attire, gathered at the forecourt of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) amidst brass band music.
They held placards some of which read, “Economic policies killing workers”, “The high tariffs is killing industries”, “System failure, Mahama’s government reboot”.
Others read, “Why have we the people become national sheep?” and “Wobetie obiaa”.
Addressing the demonstrators, Mr Eliazer Nyaunu, the Tema Regional ICU officer, said the high patronage of the demonstration emphasis that there was something fundamentally wrong in the country.
My Nyaunu said “we are getting overwhelmed with challenges facing us as Ghanaians and workers”.
According to him, the protest would not be a one off exercise but rather a continuous one until their needs are met by the government.
Mr Solomon Kotei, the General Secretary of the ICU, who presented a petition to Mr Isaac Ashai Odamtten, Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, said the demonstration was necessitated after the Tema Regional Officer took audit of effect of economic hardship on workers.
Mr Kotei said whilst subsides have been withdrawn from utilities, including water and electricity, salaries remained the same, bringing hardship to the average worker.
He said workers have to contain increases in fuel every two weeks due to the full or partial deregulation of fuel prices.
He noted that, the public does not appreciate the formula being used by the Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) and Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), adding that, the current system defeats the automatic pricing system as fuel prices kept increasing even though the price was decreasing on the international market.
The ICU General Secretary also urged the government to halt the free fall of the cedi against foreign currencies especially the United States Dollar.
He noted that the depreciation of the cedi has greatly affected industries and businesses, “not because employers were not engaging in viable ventures but rather could not cope with the exchange rate.”
He added that, this has led to the laying off of workers as employers could not break even.
Mr Kotei also called for the removal of overtime tax, SMA tax and PAYU tax, as well as the increase in Port levies and the introduction of taxes on activities of Free Zone companies.
He said the ICU would not “sit down” for industries in Tema to fold up as it has happened in Takoradi, which has seen the collapse of over 17 companies employing over 5,000 workers.
He also reminded the MCE that a similar petition presented to President John Mahama through him did not receive any reply or any action on it.
He said the ICU would advice itself if nothing concrete was done to address the issues raised in their petition.
Mr Odamtten promised to immediately forward the petition to the President.
He however debunked the assertion that nothing was done about the petitionm reminding the ICU that President Mahama visited several industries in Tema to acquaint himself with the situation on the ground.
Regional officers of the ICU from Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Volta joined the workers to walk through the principle streets of Tema.
A large number of police personnel led by DCOP Beatrice Zakpaa Vib-Sanziri, the Tema Regional Police Commander, were also present to provide security for demonstrators and the public.