Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Fighting Capitalism in Ghana

A study that used the Gini coefficient index in its measurement of the extent to which the distribution of income deviates from a perfect line of equality carried out in 2014 by the Ghana Mine Workers has revealed that 90 per cent of mine workers share of wage income is less than 10 per cent of the highest paid person. Such a wide disparity in wage inequality, according to Mr Prince William Ankrah, the General Secretary of the Union, had been a long held view in the mining industry of Ghana which the study had confirmed.

Mr Ankrah said:”The reward for labour in the mining industry in Ghana and for that matter Africa should not only be just wages but fair and equitable wages. “We have trumpeted this injustice and discrimination on many platforms but very little attention has been received. Responses from the industry’s stakeholders have been hypocritical or at best rhetoric,” he said adding on the international front comparing with their peers like South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Namibia all in Africa, Ghanaian workers were short-changed in every aspects. The Union, he said, wanted stakeholders and the world to know that “the discrimination, the alienation and the injustice must stop…To us, the dawn of a new struggle is beckoning and the Union is prepared to heed the call to change the destinies of its members.”

Mr Kwarko Mensah Gyakari, the National Chairman of the Union, said the unacceptable level of income inequality and uneven remuneration system that had persisted for a long time was a dangerous threat to the stability and sustainability of the industry. He said another worrying phenomenon creeping into the industry at a faster pace, which needed urgent response, was the issue of massive outsourcing of work. “Today, employment in the industry is fast transforming from long and permanent status to a more precarious fixed term contract and casual work. Currently, some labour brokers whose only duty is to facilitate employment have turned themselves into employers and abusing workers’ rights. We want to caution such organisations to end the practice now or face the wrath of the Union.”

Confirming this, Mr Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, said in the last three decades despite a revamping of the mining industry, mining employment had declined and mining technology had become less labour intensive. He said however that given the current fiscal regime in the mining industry, one surest way for Ghana to retain significant amount of the mining rent would be through the wages and salaries that were paid to mine workers. “Rather, mine workers in Ghana are paid on the basis of so-called purchasing power parity in which compensation in the mines is pegged to the costs of living in Ghana. And the assumption is that Ghana has relatively low costs of living compared to other major mining countries.”

Socialist Banner applauds every effort by workers to resist employers and urges all to join and strengthen the trade union movement. But why stop at what Marx described “limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class that is to say the ultimate abolition of the wages system.”

“They ought, therefore, not to be exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly springing up from the never ceasing encroachments of capital or changes of the market. They ought to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon them, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economical reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative motto: “A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!” they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: “Abolition of the wages system!" 

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