Yesterday was May Day, also widely known as Labour Day – a day when organised labour celebrates the contribution of workers worldwide. It is a moment for pride, celebration and hope.
After three years of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by troubling inflationary conditions, conflict, food and fuel supply shocks, workers badly needed this – especially in a time when real wages have fallen, poverty is rising, and inequality seems more entrenched than ever.
Enterprises have been hard hit. Many could not cope with the cumulative effects of recent unexpected events. Small and micro-enterprises were particularly affected and many have ceased operations, forcing a lot of people to join the large army of unemployed people.
Promises of renewal made during the pandemic – of ‘building back better’ – have so far not been delivered for the great majority of workers worldwide, including Ghana.
People feel that the sacrifices they made to get through COVID-19 have not been recognised, let alone rewarded. Their voices are not being heard clearly enough. This, combined with a perceived lack of opportunities, has created a disturbing level of mistrust, opined Gilbert F. Houngbo – Director-General of the International Labour Organisation
This Paper shares the concerns raised by Mr. Houngbo in his latest op-ed: that our policies and actions must be human-centred, allowing people to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity
This means realistically addressing the long-term structural transformations of our time; ensuring that new technology creates and supports employment; pro-actively facing the challenges of climate change and ensuring we offer the jobs, skills training and transition-support necessary for workers and businesses to benefit from the new low-carbon era; and treating demographic changes as a ‘dividend’ rather than a problem, with supporting action on skills, migration and social protection to create more cohesive and resilient societies.
We need to reflect on the Day to reshape the world we live in – economically, socially and environmentally. Let us take this opportunity and move forward to build the equitable and resilient societies that can underpin lasting peace and social justice.
On this score, achieving a living wage for the Ghanaian worker and protecting their incomes and pensions must be the responsibility of all stakeholders in the country’s socio-economic equation.
As workers celebrate May Day, we urge them to continue exhibiting the irresistible sense of belonging to the labour fraternity that motivates them to give their best at workplaces to maximise productivity and ensure the organisation’s profitability, and for sustainable economic growth and national development.
Similarity, employers must show commitment and pay workers a living wage in conformity with international standards that is commensurate with their toil and sacrifices for increased productivity, which translates to economic and national development.