He said the change that all Ghanaians wanted to see could only become attainable with a positive change in attitude to work.
Speaking at the 2017 edition of the May Day at the Black Star Square in Accra yesterday, the President said: “We all avoid very carefully any mention of the workplace attitudes that retard our progress. I have said it at another forum, but I think it bears repeating: we arrive at work late and then spend the first hour in prayer; we are clock watchers and leave in the middle of critical work, because it is the official closing time. Everything comes to a stop when it rains, and we seem to expect the rest of the world also to stop.
“We have no respect for the hours set aside for work… we pray, we eat, we visit during working hours. We spend hours chatting on the telephone when customers are waiting to be served, thereby increasing our labour costs. We take a week off for every funeral. And then we wonder why we are not competitive.”
This year’s celebration was marked on the theme: “Mobilising for Ghana’s Future through the creation of decent jobs.”
The workers carried placards with inscriptions, such as “GBC has the men to operate and maintain it,” “Mr President, time for National Cancer Policy,” “Reduce overtime tax now”, “Pay teachers’ salary arrears,” “Jobs and more jobs,” “Please do not kill VRA,” and “We need more money.”
We must change these attitudes
President Akufo-Addo said there was a particularly pernicious attitude to property at workplaces where there was the petty stealing of paper, envelopes, tea, milk and other items.
He also identified the reckless use of official vehicles and employees showing no inclination to protect the things that were in the offices and factories, as well as the extreme reluctance to stand up for what was right in the various workplaces in general as attitudes that undermined growth and progress.
“If we are going to make the changes we all want, then we have to start with a change in attitude to work,” he urged.
The President said the government was ready to do its part, and that he was counting on the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to lead the campaign for a change in attitude to work and increase in productivity.
On the issue of galamsey, the President said the government was not fighting to put people out of work by seeking to end galamsey.
He conceded that since God had blessed the nation with precious minerals, there would be mining in the country.
“But this present generation does not own the earth, we hold the lands in trust for generations yet unborn and we cannot destroy it. We are arranging for small-scale mining to be conducted in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Media war on galamsey
“All the indications are that the galamseyers, those who undertake the hazardous and tedious work, do not in fact make much money, as they are routinely cheated from getting a fair price for the gold they find. We are, therefore, encouraging the establishment of gold refineries, which will pay fair prices to the miners. The sustainable small-scale mining regime we envisage will protect our environment and protect the workers as well,” he said.
Acknowledging the support and role being played by the media in the fight against galamsey, President Akufo-Addo said: “The media, with the overwhelming support of all well-meaning citizens, have given true meaning to the call for all to be citizens and not spectators.”
On the issue of child labour and, especially its manifestation in some key sectors of the economy, the President said, it was a shameful phenomenon and an indictment on all Ghanaians, and that it was time to stop hiding under so-called cultural practices to find excuses.
“It is worth pointing out that if we do not stop these shameful practices, there are global agencies that have determined to institute punitive measures against us in some critical industries, which would lead to the loss of markets for our goods and the loss of jobs. Under my watch, government will work with all partners towards the goal of eliminating child labour. We will work to ensure that our children do not work under hazardous conditions to support themselves and their families,” he assured.
On corruption, the President said the government was determined to use all available tools to fight the canker of corruption because it was destroying the nation’s chances at progress and prosperity.
“The Office of the Special Prosecutor is going to be established so that the prosecution of corruption is taken out of political controversy, and thereby enhance the integrity of the rule of law,” he said.
The President said through a payroll audit conducted by the Ministry of Finance in the last two months, some 26,589 workers’ salaries had been suspended from the April 2017 payroll.
Those workers, the President said, had not come forward to be biometrically verified by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), despite numerous calls by the Controller and Accountant General for them to do so.
The idea of biometric verification, he said, was essentially to isolate ‘ghost’ names from the payroll.
“The cost of maintaining these 26,589 names on government payroll is GH¢36,166,203 per month. This means that the government stands to save the country over GH¢433 million on this year’s budget alone by this exercise,” he explained.
President Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated the need for all Ghanaians to turn over a new leaf, to turn a new page in the history of the nation.
He called on all to believe in the country’s capacity to build a modern, developed, progressive nation and free itself from the mindset of dependence, aid, charity and handouts.
“We can, together, build a new Ghanaian civilisation, where there is fair opportunity for all in education and health, where hard work, enterprise and creativity are rewarded, where there is an abundance of decent jobs with good pay, where there is a dignified retirement for the elderly, and where there is a social safety net for the vulnerable and disadvantaged,” he urged.