Hundreds of workers from different unions dressed in their colorful May Day t-shirts and polo shirts converged on Black Star Square in Accra last Sunday to commemorate this year’s May Day celebration with pomp and splendour.
The Workers’ Day celebration, marked by a march and parade, returned to its usual form this year, after a two-year hiatus due to restrictions on movements and a ban on mass gatherings as part of the measures to contain the COVID -19 pandemic.
The workers, who were seated in the various grandstands set aside for them, could not contain their joy and excitement as they sang and danced along to fast, stomping songs, known as “Jama” tunes.
The atmosphere at Black Star Square was filled with excitement, joy and happiness as the workers, without any restrictions, interacted with each other to celebrate the national May Day.
COVID-19 could not stop us
The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, said that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, May Day was celebrated virtually with that of the celebration of 2020 which takes place at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GTV) television studio.
“The pandemic couldn’t stop us from celebrating May Day. Even though we had to celebrate it virtually in 2020 at GBC studios, the President joined us in the studio to celebrate May Day,” he said. he declares.
The general secretary also acknowledged that it was the sixth time the unions celebrated May Day with President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo since he took office in January 2017.
“Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, he joined us in celebrating May Day. This is commendable and thank you sir,” said Dr. Baah.
On the theme: “Protecting jobs and incomes in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond”, the occasion provided an opportunity for trade unions to share their views on the multiplicity of challenges facing the country and the people.
International Workers’ Day, often known as May Day, Labor Day or simply Workers’ Day, is a global event that encourages workers to become aware of their rights.
The day has its origins in early socialist and trade union activities and many countries recognize it as a national holiday.
Some workers displaying their placards during the parade in Accra. Photo: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Some of the workers who spoke to the Daily chart during the parade described the theme as appropriate and in the right direction, following the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic had wreaked on the economy.
They said the effect of COVID-19 included staff layoffs and reduced wages for some private sector workers.
The approximately 31 unions that took part in the celebration hung their banners in front of the stands where they sat to listen to the various speeches that were made to mark the day, in particular from the special guest of honour, the President Akufo-Addo.
Also present were the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia; Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta; the Minister of Employment and Labor Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah; a Deputy Minister of Employment and Labor Relations, Bright Wereko-Brobbey; Director General of Social Security and National Insurance, Dr. John Ofori-Tenkorang; the President of the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA), Daniel Acheampong, and the Managing Director of the GEA, Mr. Alex Frimpong.
Others were the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Congress, Africa, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah; the General Secretary of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, Arezki Mezhoud; the Cuban ambassador to Ghana, Anette Chao Garcia, and the resident director of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Johan Ivanov.
Also present were some members of the diplomatic community and the leaders of the various trade unions.
One of the highlights of the celebration was the display of signs during the parade to communicate directly with the President and other members of the executive seated on the dais.
Some of the placards posted by the workers read “Mr. President, when will our wages increase like yours”, “We only want to survive, Nana Addo hears our plea”, “Presido, do something before you leave!”, ” Inflation has eroded Our incomes”, “We want ‘COLA’, ‘Single Spine: Too bad’, ‘Buy us off with a pay rise so we can stay afloat in this economy’, ‘Dear Ghanaians! Workers are suffering,” and “No political neutrality allowance, no 2024!”.
Others were: “Things are really tough”, “Mr. President, we are fed up with the unfair salary structure”, “Small tax drops make a powerful nation”, “2023 negotiations; 25% increase if not…”, “Mr. President Protect local industry players from overexploitation by multinational corporations”, “Mr. President, is E-Levy our May Day gift?” and “We want a living wage”.
A joint band from the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Prisons Service was also present to sing patriotic marching songs during the parade.
About 55 workers from different unions were honored in the parade for their distinguished and meritorious service and hard work.
They were presented with quotes.