Strikes, boycotts and remuneration

Strikes, boycotts and remuneration

It seems to some of us that our workers know so much about their rights, without appreciating their responsibilities.


However, the 1992 Constitution is clear, certain and unambiguous about the fact that there can be no right without a corresponding duty or obligation.

Our not-so-honourable members of Parliament (MPs), sometimes, exercise their fundamental rights to withdraw their services, not because there is a need to protect the integrity of the Legislature and promote democracy, but for personal and parochial interests.


Presently, minority MPs have resolved to abandon the work of the Legislature, for which they have the mandate of their constituents, to join their leader standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, a piece of legislation or enactment, passed by the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic that was controlled exclusively by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its alliance partner, although they claim to believe in democracy, the rule of law and due process.

They are animated because, at the end of the month, they would collect their full salary. They must be bold enough to announce that whenever they absent themselves from the House because of such selfish acts, they should not be paid.

That way, they would be applauded by the people. It is not that they cannot assert their rights, but it must come with concomitant obligations.

Laboratory technicians, the majority of whom work for both public and private health facilities, are currently on strike, gleefully working for the private sector. However, after their grievances are resolved, they would expect to be paid their full monthly salary, including the days that they withdrew their services.

The injustice is in asserting their rights to withdraw their services without appreciating that they do not have a right or claim to a salary they have not worked for.

Let the government take the functionally justified and legitimate path of deducting the days they did not work from their salaries, and they would shamelessly, with the fundamentalist support of some Ghanaians, including innocently ignorant and politically partisan activists, accuse the government of being insensitive to their plight.

The sad aspect is that the leaderships of unionised workers, including the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG), know that in other jurisdictions, unionised workers provide incentives or insurance for members who embark on strike or boycotts to assert their rights and do not make any claims for remuneration from their employers, knowing that rights go with duties and responsibilities.  


Unionised workers have been pampered for too long, knowing that no matter how long they withdraw their services, they will get their full salaries.

Otherwise, how could the University Teachers Association of Ghana, supposed and expected to be enlightened, among all manner of unionised groups, repudiate a court order to return to work if they were not confident that they would be fully paid?

Equally, if not because of the assurance that no matter the basis for a strike, salaries would be paid in full, how could the TUC threaten a nationwide strike because the management of the Sonnon Asogli Power Project had treated a few of their workers shabbily, without prejudice to their cause?

As the songster suggests in his music, how could the frog suffer when the rat chews hot pepper? The time has come for us to do what is right and just. Whereas workers cannot be denied their right to strike or boycott and withdraw their services, when they do so, the public must not be burdened with the responsibility to remunerate them for the period that they do not work.

As one philosopher has succinctly put it, "A free man, when he fails, should blame no one". We must begin to enforce the provisions of Article 41 of the 1992 Constitution, insisting that there can be no right without a corresponding duty or obligation and it shall accordingly be our duty to bear the cost of any action we take to assert our rights without looking for rewards thereafter.

The writer is a social activist.

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