Strikes broke out on Sept. 4 in protest against the Government's compulsory savings scheme and the price increases on sugar, flour, and other basic commodities, which it was claimed would reduce the workers’ living standards below an adequate level.
Under the compulsory savings scheme, five per cent of all wages and salaries, and 10 per cent of other types of income (including cocoa farmers’ incomes, but not those of other members of the farming community), would be retained for investment in non-transferable National Development Bonds, carrying two per cent tax-free interest and redeemable in 10 years (or earlier if the holder died, reached the age of 60, or left Ghana permanently). Two per cent of the amount levied each year would be used by the Government to finance a lottery among bondholders. Exemption from these provisions might be granted to any foreign national specifically applying for it.
The Government would “not countenance” any wage or salary increases, since (Mr. Goka, Minister of Finance stated) any increase in burdens imposed by the Budget would be small in comparison with recent increases in incomes and living standards. As stated above, strikes broke out on Sept. 4 in protest against the Government's compulsory savings scheme and the price increases on sugar, flour, and other basic commodities, which it was claimed would reduce the workers’ living standards below an adequate level.
The strikes began among railway workers at Sekondi -Takoradi, (Loco) spread rapidly to port workers in the twin towns and to railwaymen at Kumasi, and virtually paralysed the country's rail system, thereby forcing other employees in the Takoradi area to stop work. Appeals by the Government and leaders of the Ghana T.U.C. for a resumption of work prior to a discussion of the workers’ grievances were unsuccessful, and on Sept. 6-7 the strike spread to municipal bus workers in Accra and to employees of the trading firm of A. G. Leventis and Co., which is heavily backed by Government loans.
A limited state of emergency was proclaimed on Sept. 9, covering both the area of Sekondi-Takoradi and the country's railway system. This measure gave the Government power to requisition vehicles in order to maintain the movement of essential supplies, to control traffic, and to ban meetings; convicted saboteurs became liable to up to 10 years’ imprisonment; and senior police or military officers were empowered to detain suspects without a warrant.
Strong forces of police went on duty in Sekondi-Takoradi on Sept. 10; a train manned by an emergency crew was able for the first time to travel from Kumasi to Accra; and on Sept. 11 about 1,000 railwaymen at Kumasi (one-quarter of the total number of rail strikers) returned to work, enabling a skeleton rail service to be restarted, although the strike situation at Takoradi was virtually unchanged. On Sept. 12 the Government appealed to all retired railway workers to register at police stations in case their services were required.
The strike continued with broader implications for various politicians…. More to follow.