'Allow para-military units to form unions' pg 3

A Former Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Christian Appiah-Agyei, has called on the labour union to champion a review of the law that bans staff of para-military organisations from forming unions to fight for their interest.
He said all workers in the country had the fundamental right to form or join a trade union, as was the case in many jurisdictions across the globe.
The Labour Act (651) of 2003 bars members of the security services, including para-military organisations specified under the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act (526) of 1996, from forming workers’ unions.
Mr Appiah-Agyei was speaking at a forum organised by the TUC as part of activities marking this year’s International Workers Day (May Day) which falls on May 1, each year.
In Ghana, this year’s celebration, which is on theme, “Consolidating Workers Solidarity and the Legacy of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah”, is dedicated to Dr Nkrumah’s memory for his role in helping to establish a strong labour movement in the country and also to promote unity and solidarity among Ghanaian workers on the occasion of the centenary celebration of Dr Nkrumah’s birth.
May Day is celebrated and recognised as the International Workers’ Day, chosen more than 100 years ago to commemorate the struggles and gains of workers and the labour movement.
Many notable reasons to celebrate the day are the acceptance by employers of the eight-hour a day working period, considering Saturday as part of the weekend, improved working conditions, as well as child labour laws.
But these gains were not attained without the solidarity of workers. The event is recognised in every country except the US, Canada and South Africa.
Addressing the participants, Mr Appiah-Agyei said, “Anything short of complete unity or solidarity in spirit, sentiment, purpose and interest at the trade union front will mean lower pay and poor working conditions for the majority of workers who need trade union protection.”
He said the development of trade unionism in the country was deeply rooted in the country’s politics from the colonial era, through the anti-colonial struggle to the achievement of independence.
He noted that Dr Nkrumah, when he was appointed General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), recognised the potency of trade unions and decided to harness them for self-determination, adding that the TUC later became an integral part of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and worked together in the interest of workers.
He stressed that trade unions could form alliances with progressive forces in the country, including political parties, if they so desired but the independence of the union should not be compromised.
He, however, bemoaned situations where governments in developing countries were forced by international financial institutions to implement harsh economic policies that were anti-labour.
A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Languages, University of Ghana, Dr Gamel Nasser Adam, for his part, decried the amount of time Ghanaian media, especially television, spent on entertainment and commercials.
“My argument here is that the magnitude of our crisis of under-development is such that what we need is the inoculation of serious work ethics in the psyche of our people directed at national development and not the present perverse leisure-and-consumption ethics being disseminated and entrenched by television especially,” he said.
Dr Adam, who paid glowing tribute to the legacy of Dr Nkrumah, said the tendency to limit the legacy of Dr Nkrumah to the various development projects was unfortunate, since he continually admonished the trade union movement in Ghana not only to assist in raising productivity but also national consciousness among the working people, especially in the fight against neo-colonialism which had become a global order.


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