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May Day celebrations - Workers start procession from Nkrumah Interchange

BY: Caroline Boateng & Emmanuel Bonney
 FLASHBACK: Workers of various organitions in last year’s May Day parade
FLASHBACK: Workers of various organitions in last year’s May Day parade

This year’s national May Day parade, which comes off tomorrow, May 1, 2019, will take a different format.

Workers from 35 organised labour unions will converge on the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange by 7a.m. to embark on a procession to the Black Star Square, where the national celebrations will be held.

Under this new arrangement, the workers will walk from Circle through Farrar Avenue, the TUC Headquarters traffic lights, towards the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO), the Polo Grounds and then move to the Black Star Square.

This is unlike the past events where workers met at the Square for the May Day Parade.

The Vice Chairman of the National May Day Planning Committee, Ms Susie Afua Adoboe, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic that the procession from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the Black Star Square was aimed at drawing more attention to the event by creating awareness on the issue of pensions by carrying placards and banners on the streets and sending their expected messages.

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“The format has changed, you know previously we all converge on the Black Star Square, go through a march past after which the President of the country and the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) would address us,” Ms Adoboe noted.

She said this year it was not going to be like that - the workers, who will be led by their various leaders, will go on a procession.

You know it is not everybody who will sit by the television to watch, some people will be busy, so as the workers go through the principal streets, those along those streets, could also see them and read their messages.

Convergence

The workers are expected to be at the Square grounds by 10 a.m. for the main national event.

The workers will then be addressed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo after the speech by the TUC Secretary General.

At the event, workers who have distinguished themselves in various areas will receive various awards with citations.

Ms Adoboe noted that the workers who would be from both public and private sectors, including teacher unions such as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Ghana Federation of Labour, Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA), Local Government Workers Union, Ghana Mine Workers Union, the Ghana Private Roads Transport Union (GPRTU) and the Amalgamated Pensions.

“Apart from the national event that is taking place in Accra, there would be regional events taking place in the previously 10 regions; Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East...of the country.

This is because the new six regions -...are now being set up so we are using the old 10 regions,” she explained.

Theme

This year’s event is being held on the theme: “Sustainable Pensions for All - The Role of Social Partners”, and Ms Adoboe said the theme was carefully chosen because “pension affects every worker from the day you go to work”.

“If you have good health and you are going to work you do not have a problem but if you go on retirement that is where the reality would dawn on you and so we want the government to pay attention to the demands of all workers,” she explained.

“When most people go home what they give them cannot sustain them. We want the government to do something about workers pension, it should be improved upon,” she said.

Ms Adoboe said it was, therefore, her expectation that government would improve workers pension.

Support

Regarding support, she said, it came from the various member unions under a cost sharing initiative, adding that every union was expected to contribute something towards the national event.

Sponsorship was also sought from corporate bodies and the government as well.

Joshua Ansah

The deputy Secretary General of the TUC, Mr Joshua Ansah, told the Daily Graphic in a separate interview that the change was to ensure that workers were calm and collected at the time of the delivery of the May Day speeches.

In previous celebrations, he said workers marched past and saluted the Secretary General and the President.

Similar parades had workers in the regions and districts marching and saluting the regional secretary generals and representatives of the President.

Speech

This year the May Day speech by the Secretary General, Dr Yaw Baah, will focus on workers' pensions.

Already, a pre-May Day forum brought together experts to engage workers on their pensions.

The Secretary General will also take the opportunity to speak about his passion, that is the gender inequalities even in pensions.

Dr Baah will also emphasise the lack of a safety net for workers in the informal sector, for instance, farmers, when they retire.

He is going to ask for the commitment of the government to revive a policy to give pensions to cocoa farmers and also expand it to cover all workers in the informal sector.

211th May Day

This year’s celebration of the May Day which is also known as International Workers Day, will hit its 211th anniversary.

The international commemoration of a day for workers was officially instituted in 1891 to commemorate what is known as the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago on May 4, 1886.

Four workers among a crowd of the demonstrating workers pressing their demands for an eight-hour work day, were killed when an unidentified person threw a bomb into the crowd.

The police was sent to quell the strike and they started firing into them resulting in the death of the four.

Engagements after the riots among workers led to the recognition of May 1 as an International Day on which workers are celebrated.

Internationally, workers will be commemorating and engaging on the theme: Uniting workers for social and economic advancement.