Illegal strikes; illogical Ghanaian convention; Labour expert bares it all

A labour consultant has berated the convention where government officials who earn relatively higher salaries are allowed to use electricity, fuel and other utilities free of charge while the citizenry who rather earn lower salaries are made to pay for those products and services.

Charles Bawah, is even more intrigued by the constitutional provision which prevents presidents from paying taxes in Ghana.

While discussing Thursday’s nationwide demonstration on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme, the labour consultant applauded the Constitution Review Commission for taking a second look at that particular constitutional provision, saying, “I can’t imagine that the head of the country does not pay tax and yet he expects the rest of the citizens to pay taxes.”

President John Mahama had on previous occasions voluntarily filed his tax returns but Bawah maintains such a decision must not be left to whims of a president.

Per our current constitutional structure, “he [president] is not legally obliged to do so [pay tax]. It is only proper and fair that the constitution requires the president to show the way,” he advocated.

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On the freebies given to government officials, Mr Bawah was even more blunt.

“There is something very interesting happening in this country. Not just this current government, government over the years. It is this that top government officials get almost everything free.

“Free transportation, free fuel, free accommodation but if you look at the salaries of the ordinary Ghanaian and compare it with what the government officials earn, you can easily tell who is earning more. So how is that the people who earn less rather pay for these services and the people who earn more rather get this free, get that free,” he protested.

Illegal strikes

Charles Bawah said most of the strikes declared in Ghana are illegal.

He argued the Labour Act which spells out the rights of employers and employees has been violated time without number.

“In this country it will appear to me that we make the laws and we dump them. This is one law which is almost being dumped because we hardly follow its provisions when it comes to strike.

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“For a very long time I have not seen a legal strike in Ghana because the provisions regarding strike action are so strict and structured in such a way that before you can embark on a legal strike your problem would have been resolved.

He said Thursday’s strike or demonstration was clearly “illegal” but the workers were exercising their democratic rights.

He added the employers can take necessary action against the employees, if it is the case that the employees went demonstrating without the express permission of the employer.