The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Ghana (ICU) yesterday embarked on a massive demonstration at Tema to protest against fuel price and utility tariff increases and the cedi-dollar parity.
The mammoth demonstration was also to protest against the numerous taxes and levies which have, adversely, affected the standard of living of Ghanaian workers and the citizenry in general.
The three-hour exercise which started from the forecourt of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, said participants, clad in red head gears and arm bands, singing war songs and dancing to drums music along some of the principal streets of Tema.
Others also carried placards some of which read, ‘The impact of the new tariffs will kill us’, ‘Save our cedi’, ‘Pension funds stolen, ‘Wobetie obiaa’, Ebolaic economic policies killing workers’.
The demonstrators were escorted by a crack team of about 100 policemen in full combat gear led by the Tema Regional Police Commander, DCOP Beatrice Vib-Sanziri during their rounds.
The General Secretary of ICU, Mr. Solomon Kotei, who led the exercise, later presented a copy of their petition to the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tema, Mr. Isaac A. Odamtten on behalf of President John Mahama.
A copy of the petition obtained by the Ghanaian Times said “The disparity in the cedi-dollar and other major trading currencies equivalent had caused spiraling inflation in the country impacting negatively on incomes of workers and the purchasing power of Ghanaians generally”.
“According to the petition, between January 2014 and June 2015, the cedi had depreciated by a margin of 95 per cent”.
It accused the government of breaking faith with the people on the social contract it had with them on fuel prices through the Automatic Price Adjustment Formula as it was not faithfully applied.
It observed that the formula was only applied when the world oil market price went up but the opposite was the case when it went down.
The petition said similarly, the random increases in utility tariffs, especially, when the availability of those services was not guaranteed, did not only adversely affect the cost of doing business in the country but also crippled businesses and displaced social lives and activities of the citizenry.
It noted that it also affected the union’s negotiations with employers for improved salaries and conditions of service for its membership as some employers cited the ‘dumsor’ syndrome, unbridled fuel price hikes and random utility tariff increases which had increased their overhead cost and also affected productivity as reasons for their inability to meet workers demands.
The petition called for the abolition of taxes such as overtime tax, SMS tax, reduction in the communication service tax, import and excise taxes as they were eventually passed on to the poor worker and a review of the income tax (PAYE) threshold to benefit more workers.
It called for immediate action to normalize the generation and supply of energy to bring the economy back on its keel.
It expressed worry that at the end of June 2015, about 13,080 workers had been declared redundant due to the energy crisis and called for a meeting between management of ICU and government to find lasting solution to the challenges.
From G. B. Gibbah
and Ken Afedzi, Tema.