Ghana’s Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) has observed times are hard in the country and expressed dismay government has not fixed the economy as expected halfway into the given four-year term.
The concerns were registered when the national leadership and the Upper East Regional Council of the union held a general meeting in the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga.
“We want to believe that government would come out with concrete steps to deal with the issue of the economy. Things are hard. Times are hard and people are really suffering. This is not politics. It is not politics because the President even stood in one of the countries in Europe and admitted that the situation indeed is that bad and people are suffering.
“It’s no more a political talk. So, the time has come. We believe that two years is enough for any new government to take off and fix the economy for Ghanaians to live comfortably, to have the good standards of living,” said the ICU-Ghana’s Deputy General Secretary in charge of Operations, Morgan Ayawine.
Revamp the Collapsed Factories before Adding New Ones— ICU tells Gov’t
The general meeting also saw the ICU-Ghana underscore the need for government to give a face-lift to the collapsed factories in the region before establishing the new ones it promised before the 2016 polls.
“The issue of the government’s flagship projects, i.e. One District One Factory, One Village One Dam and One Constituency One Million Dollars, should not remain a rhetoric as their successful implementation would help in arresting the unemployment situation which has become the number-one and notorious enemy of the country.
“For instance, in the Upper East region, we have the Pwalugu Tomato Factory, the Zuarungu Meat Processing Factory, the agricultural stations and animal husbandries at Doba, Bazua, Binduri, Naga and Pusi-Namoo among others which have been abandoned for years,” remarked the Deputy General Secretary.
“Undoubtedly, if all of these factories and agricultural stations were refurbished and put into operation,” he said. “They would create a lot of employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth of this region and would stop the drift of the youth to the major cities in search of non-existent jobs.”
He affirmed: “There is urgent need for government to reactivate the factories and other organisations which are currently moribund before establishing new ones.”
Union to Use Legal Means to Defend Members Intimidated by Employers
Issues related to the rights of workers came up strongly in the meeting, with the leaders of the union urging members to not allow themselves to be intimidated by employees and reaffirming their commitment as leaders to defending their rights through legal means.
“The main reason why workers join unions is to seek protection under the cover of trade unions. So, we should not sit aloof and allow employers to push us around. We must fight for our rights. We have come of age where we don’t need to ask anybody ‘how do I fight for my rights?”.
“Your rights are all stipulated in the 1992 Constitution. You’ll find your rights in the Labour Act 2003, Act 65 (1). You’ll fight your rights in the ILO (International Labour Organisation) conventions. We have several statutes that spell out your rights. Those who have taken power as their property to deal with union leaders because they are leading workers, their days are numbered. We’ll make sure the law is respected,” announced the Deputy General Secretary.
The union’s Upper East Regional Industrial Relations Officer, Rudolph Agamu, echoed the Deputy General Secretary’s warning, saying in his address to the gathering: “Unfortunately, some board members and managers understand union work differently. They see unionised members as counterproductive and allow general managers to intimidate some staff members and union executives. Grievance procedures as prescribed by the labour laws have most often been ignored by some institutions, leading to some managers and board chairpersons of the same institutions using their own discretion. The union shall use all possible legal means to combat this menace and to foster peaceful coexistence.”