The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has praised the government for the “remarkable achievements” in the various sectors of the economy, citing the numerous projects which it believes will help spur economic growth.
“We have seen all the infrastructural developments that have been carried out under your leadership -roads, bridges, airports, schools, sea ports, rural electrification, energy and job-creation programmes.
“These are remarkable achievements,” said Dr. Yaw Baah, Secretary-General of the TUC, when he led the executives of the Union to meet President Mahama and his Cabinet at the Flagstaff House in Accra, yesterday.
The encounter was to offer the platform for the new TUC executive to be officially introduced to the President, and also state their concerns on pertinent national issues, as well as seek clarification on the President’s development plans in his next term of office.
In addition to the projects, Dr. Baah said the Union had taken note of the government’s plans to increase jobs under the Youth Employment Agency from the current 100,000 to 400,000, and the plan to increase funding for the Youth Enterprise Support programme from GH¢10 million to GH¢100 million next year.
“These initiatives would go a long way to address the acute joblessness among young people in Ghana,” he said.
The TUC boss also commended the government for the implementation of the various macro-economic stability measures which were producing results.
However, he expressed concern about the high interest rates that were adversely affecting businesses, saying “we also expect you to do something about the high interest rate and high cost of living when you get the nod.”
Dr Baah noted that banks were currently charging as high as 3.5 per cent per month, while some micro-finance savings and loans companies charged six per cent, and stated that “the high interest rates reflect the uncertainties in the economy.”
Touching on the planned private participation in the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), he thanked the President for stopping the Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) from holding the Bidders’ Conference to pave way for the privatization arrangement, and said the Union was awaiting government’s response to its concerns on the issue.
Assuring the President of the support of the TUC in implementing his development agenda, he said “we are ready to work with your government to formulate and implement home-grown policies and programmes in the true spirit of social partnership.”
President Mahama, in his response, lauded the cooperation his administration continued to enjoy from Organised Labour, and reiterated his commitment towards advancing the welfare of workers and the unions.
Regarding Organised Labour’s protest over some of the clauses in the ECG privatisation issue, he said the government was consulting the Attorney-General to find a solution that would satisfy all parties.
In spite of that, he assured the TUC that the implementation of the US-sponsored Compact for the power sector would not result in any job losses, saying that it would rather support the sector to generate more jobs.
Touching on housing, the President announced that the government had plans to deploy a comprehensive housing scheme for public sector workers as part of measures to protect their welfare during service and in retirement.
He said various public sector housing models, including that of Morocco, were being analysed, and would involve Organised Labour at the planning stage.
President Mahama gave the assurance that the TUC Hall, the headquarters of the trade unions, would be offered a facelift to befit the Union, adding that the government would continue to be receptive and consult the Union on relevant matters.
After the meeting with the TUC, President Mahama also met the executives of the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) during which he explained the current economic dynamics as well as current and future macro-economic measures to sustain and improve the stability of the economy.
By Edmund Mingle