Workers or aggrieved citizens engaging in strikes all over the world is a normal, civil activity. Civil service and public sector as well as formal and informal sector workers find themselves at one time or the other in this situation.
That simply means we live in an imperfect, challenging world as individuals, families, organisations, community and state.
Even in the developed economies where welfare programmes abound, people find opportunities and occasion to ‘flex’. That is why the sudden ‘threat’ from our usually measured TUC boss, Dr Yaw Baah, appears to have surprised some Ghanaians.
While he has admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian-Ukraine conflict have put economies, globally, in substantial distress, he has also cited endemic government incompetence at solving basic economic problems as basis for the ‘threat’ of a strike. That may be fair.
What worries many people is the ‘threat’ angle to a debatable note that continues to sound shrill among workers who need to understand the situation in tactfully engaging government.
As we would admit, it is normal to have governments around this time of the year announcing some ‘top-up’ to cushion workers. It may even direct upward adjustments in wages and salaries across the public and private sectors. And, we know that, even for some private organisations, it is profit that drives any policy of a rise in salaries and allowances.
Instead of patting ourselves on the back over our acclaimed gains as a country, beating our own and global economic growth forecasts, we appear to have fallen too early to the temptation to get our piece of the pie, regardless of the challenges confronting us collectively.
Of course, workers are always entitled to their rewards by every stretch of the law. That is why adding ‘threats’ to legality may look suspicious, particularly when government has already missed a whole quarter in revenue intended to boost economic activity, including improving lives and livelihoods across the spectrum.
As workers unions and organised labour engage government, the Daily Statesman would urge caution and tact because of government’s record of having shown faith and commitment in listening to citizens. That is manifest in how government keeps extending social protection programmes, even to those who are aged and vulnerable.
Prefacing our civil engagements with ‘threats’ has not helped striking workers, organised labour or government as partners who are expected to relate as a family working towards the same ends.
The argument about inflation and its cost to living conditions of workers is, however, spot on, hence the need for government to cushion workers against its ill winds. That is where we agree with the TUC boss; and that is a fair argument to engage government over.
Government assurance key
As workers and their unions get into frenzy, we believe it is also imperative that government responds to the issues, and give assurance that the demands of workers would be met, even if halfway, as a commitment to intervene later in the day, and as funds become available.
And while workers may be considering industrial action, it is also important to consider making allowances for ensuring that key services are not denied citizens or organisations that need them. As long as it is their jobs that take care of them, it is also important that they protect them, even as they engage government and make lawful demands on it.
That is how to sustain inclusive governance and, more importantly, productivity, in always having enough to go round everybody, including the aged and vulnerable across the country.