Story By: Comfort Acquah, Tema.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President of the Republic of Ghana had cause to complain about the poor attitude of Ghanaians towards work.
Whiles admitting that “we do have lots of problems – bad roads, traffic jams, high electricity tariffs, inadequate housing and of course, low wages” – he indicated that “we all avoid very carefully any mention of the workplace attitudes that retard our progress.
“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,” he noted while addressing scores of Ghanaian workers at the Independence Square to celebrate international Workers’ Day which fell Yesterday (May 1).
Aside that, he said, “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
“The service that we provide in our hospitality industry does not match that of our competitors and many of us have sadly come around to accept poor service as the norm. There is a particularly pernicious attitude to property that we find at work. There is the petty stealing of paper, envelopes, tea, milk and other equipment. There is the reckless use of office vehicles. Employees show no inclination to protecting the things that are in the office and factories, and extreme reluctance to stand up for what we know to be right in our workplaces in general.”
President Akufo-Addo therefore indicated, “If we are going to make the changes we all want, then we have to start with a change in attitude to work. Government is ready to do its part, and I am counting on you, Secretary General” (referring to the boss of the Trades Union Congress), “to lead the campaign for a change in attitude to work and increase productivity.”
Even though he said “some of those workers of old would not recognize the present day practices at our workplaces,” the president recalled how Ghanaian artisans used to have an enviable reputation around the region, saying, “Our carpenters, masons, mechanics, plumbers, tailors, were much sought after” and that “They took pride in their work and improved upon their own set standards every time they took on a new job.”
At a point, President Akufo-Addo could not but ask rhetorically, “How come that old, very old classroom blocks withstand storms and heavy rainfall, whilst the roofs of nearby, newly built ones are ripped off regularly? How come that we build roads that are expected to last for at least five years and they do not make it through one rainy season before they fail and pot holes appear?”
He was therefore to the conviction that “The workers on the roads, the contractors and the consultants all conspire to deliver the shoddy work that prevents us from getting to where we ought to be.”