Protest Hikes causing "desperate social and economic conditions" - Organised Labour

"We firmly believe that a governance system in which [the] taxation of the ordinary man and woman becomes an obsession, is socially undemocratic and unacceptable.”

  • Published:
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

With loud horns, united voices and biting placards, workers clad in red took to the streets of Accra over the “desperate social and economic conditions” recent tax, levy and utility hikes are causing.

 The Organised Labour demonstration began at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, on Monday, January 20,  went along Liberia Road, past the National Theatre and ended at Independence Square.

 The demonstration, estimated to be about 3,000 people, had many groups represented, including overall body Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), as well as the Judicial Service Workers Association of Ghana (JUSAG), the Cocoa Processing Company Ltd and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) among others.

The action extended through the country with demonstrators taking to the streets in solidarity and to present petitions.

The nationwide protest was to register Organised Labour’s displeasure about the government’s refusal to reduce the increase in taxes that have heightened the prices of petroleum products and the cost of utility tariffs.

Since December, water bills have increased by 67.2 percent, power by 59.2 percent, and fuel by 27 percent.

Protesters peacefully waved their placards, danced to drums and chanted along the streets of Accra.

Placards urged President John Mahama to have compassion, others said “the worst form of violence is poverty”, as well as “spare us our future, politicians” and “we are suffering” ‘fix the economy and stop the blame game”.

The protest had a heavy police presence, police flanked the protesters on all sides and also blocked off roads as the protest passed them by. Some wore riot helmets and carried batons. Some armed police stood  on tanks with rifles pointed at the crowd.

The demonstration ended at Independence Square, where TUC secretary general Kofi Asamoah read out the Organised Labour petition and then handed it to Minister for Employment and Labour Relations Haruna Iddrisu, who was also present.

The petition called for a reduction in the tariff increases and a withdrawal of the Energy Sector Levies Act.

Reading the petition out, which was addressed to Iddrisu, Asamoah said the working group government set up to work out “an amicable solution” had failed to produce satisfactory results.

“The message we are getting from our participation in the Working Group is that government remains adamant to our demands.”

 The petition also said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may have suggested the government implement the recent hikes.

The petition said IMF policies did not work and caused negative outcomes.

He said the protest was to show “the desperate social and economic conditions the utility tariff increase and the new levies and taxes on petroleum products and on incomes have occasioned.

"We firmly believe that a governance system in which [the] taxation of the ordinary man and woman becomes an obsession, is socially undemocratic and unacceptable.”

The Organised Labour petition acknowledged the need to increase tariffs, but with public sector wages only increasing by 10 percent, it said the current hikes were “unbearable” for individuals and industry.

 It called for a reduction of the utility increases to 50 percent for both electricity and water, the lifeline consumption for water to remain at between 0 and 20 cubic meters and it called for the withdrawal of the Energy Sector Levies Act, which caused the increase in fuel prices.

It warned of social instability if the government kept on attempting to fix all economic challenges too quickly.

Responding to the crowd's call and the petition, Iddrisu said he would pass the petition on to the president.

He said the hikes were to protect jobs and were not done to spite workers.

Some protesters who spoke to said they needed an improvement in their lives; that working conditions are poor and the president needs to intervene.

"Mahama needs to listen to our plight. If he doesn't listen, we will advise ourselves," one demonstrator said.

"We can't pay our children's school fees anymore. Our wives are angry with us," another demonstrator lamented.

Ghana Tourism Authority worker Ree Sumo Attuquayefio said a salary increase of 10 percent was not enough when he was facing 157 percent in utility hikes.

 “We think that is not means I can not buy anything. I have a family too and extended family.”

He said the government had appeared to have taken an “entrenched position”.

“It’s not right, they should listen to the people.”

While JUSAG worker Darius Boateng said he was at the protest because he could not keep quiet any longer on the effect the increases had on him.

He was pleased with the number of people at the protest and hoped the government listened to their calls.

 A nationwide strike is also organised for January 21 and 22 if government fails to meet the demands of the demonstrators.

Boateng said he was waiting to hear if he will be striking this week over the hikes. He said striking would be dependant on the government's response to the workers demands.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Ghana?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +233507713497, Social Media @pulseghana: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email:

Recommended Articles

Recommended Videos