NATIONWIDE DEMOS!

demoOrganised Labour yesterday staged a massive demonstration through some principal streets of Accra in protest against what they described as harsh economic conditions in the country.

The demonstrators, numbering over 15,000 defied police orders for them to converge at the Accra Hearts of Oak Park near the Arts Centre and proceeded to the Independence Square, where they presented a petition to the government, through the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu.

Not even barricades erected by the police at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority Head Office traffic lights, could deter them from going beyond that point.

Clad in red and black, the demonstrators drawn from both the public and private institutions and drivers in Accra and its environs, marched from the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, through Farisco to the TUC headquarters and finally ended at the Independence Square.

They were joined on the way by other people, including some traders.

They carried placards some of which read; ‘Talk only, no action’; ‘Save the Tema Oil Refinery’, ‘We are all Ghanaians’ ‘Weak economy and bad leadership,’ ‘Government does not believe in Ghanaians’, ‘Error in Mahama government’, ‘After collapsing the cedi you want to collapse Ghana Ports and Habours Authority’ and ‘Mahama government under life support,’ among others.

Amidst brass band music and vuvuzela, the demonstrators were heavily guarded by about 800 police and other security personnel.

Mr. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the TUC, who read the petition on behalf of Organised Labour, expressed concern about the fast depreciation of the cedi and urged the government to do something about it.

He raised a number of concerns such as the folding up of businesses, high cost of living and doing business, high interest and inflation rates, and the unemployment rate in the country.

He also touched on the ailing Tema Oil Refinery which, hitherto, was vibrant and entreated the government to save it from collapse.

Mr. Asamoah said since the beginning of this year, Organised Labour had used many channels to meet the government to drum home workers,’ concerns including the hardship that Ghanaians were facing amidst high tariffs, but no action had been taken to ameliorate their suffering.

He therefore, called on the President to lead Ghanaians from poverty, fix the weak economy, and address the poor fiscal policies.

The President should also revive the railway system, address the spate of corruption and take measures to streamline the gas pipeline, and reduce petroleum prices, he said.

Mr. Iddrisu, who received the petition on behalf of the government, assured that the government would expedite action on the petition, pointing out that it is doing everything possible to fix the economy.

On TOR, the minister said the government had put measures in place to reactivate the refinery while efforts were being made to revive the rail system and the new gas pipeline to be completed before the close of the year.

Besides, he said, the government was seeking an $800 million dollar loan from the Chinese government to cushion activities of the various sectors of the economy, and commended the protestors for comporting themselves during the peaceful demonstration.

Health personnel in some selected hospitals in Accra refused to attend to patients in the morning, in support of the nationwide strike action, reports Yaw Kyei and Gloria Mensah.

Although the Out Patients Departments (OPDs) of the hospitals attended to emergency cases, including pregnancy, the workers declined to render their general clinic services.

Some doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists also suspended their services in support of the demonstrators.

When The Ghanaian Times visited the Adabraka Polyclinic, yesterday morning, the OPD was virtually empty, with a few nurses attending to patients already on admission.

The situation was not different at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. With the exception of the Maternity, Childbirth and Surgery Departments, workers in all other departments laid down their tools.

The Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Mustapha Salifu, said the workers action was for yesterday only and gave the assurance that the medical personnel would be available today, to attend to patients.

Anita Nyarko and Edem Mensah-Tsotorme, also report that     human and vehicular movement at lorry stations in the Accra metropolis were sluggish yesterday, following the demonstration by Organi-sed Labour against economic hardships in the country.

By Francis Asamoah Tuffour

 

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