Organised labour has declared an indefinite strike effective December 27th. This comes after its earlier demand for the government to exempt pension funds from the Debt Exchange Programme (DEP).
Organised labour had earlier given a one-week ultimatum to government to rescind its decision to include pension funds in the Debt Exchange Programme, else workers would advise themselves, Their demands, were communicated to the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on December 12th.
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Organised Labour Announces Indefinite Strike
Announcing the strike in Accra yesterday, the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, said the government had failed to heed the demands of organised labour. He made this known with the following statements:
- “The government has refused to grant us our request that all pension funds be exempted from the DEP. We have decided firmly that all workers of Ghana are going on strike on December 27.
- “We will be on strike until our demand that all pension funds be exempted from the DEP is granted,”
About Organised Labour Strike
- Organised labour decided to embark on the industrial action following a crunch meeting at the TUC Headquarters.
- The declaration of the strike was witnessed by the TUC and its affiliates as well as other labour unions such as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Ghana Medical Association, the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, the Teachers and Educational Workers Union, the Ghana Association of University Administrators, the University Teachers Association of Ghana, the Ghana Federation of Labour and the Health Services Workers Union.
- Workers from the various labour unions, clad in red attire and wearing red armbands, received the announcement of the strike with chants and shouts of ‘No haircuts on our pensions’, ‘We will never accept haircut’ and ‘We will roll over haircuts’.
- Figures from the Central Securities Depository shows that pension funds hold about six per cent of the government’s domestic debt.
The Way Forward
Dr Baah stated that organised labour would not compromise on its stance to protect the pensions of workers, and that the government had the opportunity until December 27 to correct its decision. He made this known with the following statements:
- “We are not sitting down for our pension funds to be toyed with for the most vulnerable to suffer because somebody has made mistakes,”
Debt Exchange Programme
- The Minister of Finance had earlier announced that the government would implement a voluntary DEP as part of measures to reduce the debt burden and give the government some breathing space to deal with the fiscal challenges facing the country.
- With the Debt Exchange Programme, domestic bondholders face steep interest rate cuts and the lengthening of tenure on their investments.
- Also, investors in dollar-denominated Eurobonds will also have to contend with both interest rate cuts and the loss of up to 30 per cent of the principal amounts invested.
- Domestic debt investors will be asked to exchange their existing securities for new ones that may offer a zero coupon in the first year, five per cent in the second and 10 per cent in the third year.
- In addition, holders of short-term debt securities, comprising Treasury bills of 91 days, 182 days and 364 days, will be excluded from the DEP.