Organised Labour has declared its intention to embark on an indefinite strike from December 27, 2022.
Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), announced this during a press conference on Monday.
He explained that the strike is being held as a result of the government’s decision to implement a debt exchange program.
He says the strike will last until the government exempts pension funds from the planned debt exchange program.
Labour Unions present at the briefing were; the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Ghana Medical Association, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association of Ghana and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU).
The TUC had previously warned the government to exempt its members’ pension funds from the debt exchange program.
According to them, the programme will negatively affect the security of their retirement income.
“……we have analysed the debt exchange programme and after a thorough analysis of the programme and a very extensive discussion among the leadership of TUC and affiliates, our conclusion is very firm. And it is that the program will have a negative impact on our members’ pension funds and, as a result, their retirement income security,” he said.
“Our pension is already low, and we would have expected our government to go to great lengths to protect the meager pension we have. Instead, they are introducing programme inspired by the International Monetary Fund to cut further pension income. As a result, the Trades Union Congress and all of its affiliates have decided that our members’ pension funds will not be included in the domestic debt exchange program,” he added.
According to Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, the Union has written to the Minister of Finance demanding that all pension funds invested in government bonds be removed from the domestic exchange program.
“…….we are also demanding in that letter that within one week from today, the government should publicly announce that all pension funds, including SSNIT are exempted from the debt exchange programme. Again, we have served notice in the letter that if the government does not respond to our demands within one week, we will advise ourselves,” Dr. Baah said.
It would be recalled that government on December 5, 2022, announced a debt restructuring measure.
According to Ken Ofori-Atta, the objective is “to invite holders of domestic debt to voluntarily exchange approximately GH¢137 billion of the domestic notes and bonds of the Republic, including E.S.L.A. and Daakye bonds, for a package of New Bonds to be issued by the Republic.”
Bondholders such as pension funds, banks, and insurance companies will have to exchange their bonds for zero-interest bonds next year.
The new bonds will only begin to earn five per cent interest in 2024 and 10 per cent for the remainder of their tenure. The maturity dates have also been pushed back, with the first bonds due to mature in 2027.