Unions urged to stand united


The Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL) has advised unions operating in industries in Tema to unite in seeking the welfare of their members as conflicts among them give a leeway to employers.

Mr Emmanuel Addo Kumi, the TDCL Vice Chairman said many workers in Tema were suffering because of disunity among the various unions at their workplace.

He stated for instance that similar conflicts among the two unions in the Tema PSC Shipyard (Dry Dock) had given management the opportunity to interdict some workers’ way beyond the stipulated six months, indicated in the Labour Regulations 2007 LI 1833 (8) (1), without reinstating them or convicting them of any crimes.

Mr Kumi who is also the Vice Chairman for the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Greater Accra Region stated speaking on the topic: “Union Pluralism at the Workplace,” during the 14th Edition of the Stakeholders Engagement and Worker’s Appreciation Day Seminar of the Tema Regional Office of the Ghana News Agency.

The GNA Tema Stakeholder Engagement is a platform rolled out for state and non-state actors to address national issues and serves as a motivational mechanism to recognize the editorial contribution of reporters toward national development in general and the growth and promotion of the Tema GNA as the industrial news hub.

The TDCL Vice Chairman said pluralism gave the worker, the liberty to join any association of his or her choice as they could have more than one union at the workplace.

He added however that when the unions decide to fight for supremacy and undermined each other at the workplace, it affects the welfare of the workers and even breeds a toxic work environment.

“Union pluralism is good but have some challenges especially when they conflict with each other, workers must therefore make it a point to come together to fight for a common interest,” he stated.

Explaining the law behind the formation of unions at the workplace, Mr Kumi, said the Labour Act, 2003 (ACT 651) gave every worker the right to join a trades union.

He added that section 80 of the Act stipulated that formation of trades union or employee association could take place with two or more workers in the same undertaken or workplace.

The TDCL Vice Chairman, indicated that in order to ensure peaceful coexistence between the unions at the workplace, the Act clearly stated that a head count of members of the various unions must be done to determine which group have the majority numbers.

He said with that, the mother union of the local group with the majority then receive the bargaining right to negotiate on behalf of the workforce of that company.

Mr Kumi stated however that, the majority group is required to consult the leadership of the minority union to decide on what to negotiate.

Mr Abraham Koomson, Secretary-General of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), backing the call for unity among the unions said even though union pluralization was good, it was still very important for the various unions to come together to have the needed organized labour as referred to in the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651).

Mr Koomson noted that Ghana currently has about 140 labour unions compared to the existing 18 before the introduction of Act 651 in 2003, saying that most of these unions unfortunately were not strong.

He added that unions must know the mission of unionism to discharge their responsibilities to workers effectively and efficiently, as according to him, currently some were forming unions only for their personal interests against that of the workforce.

He further said it was unfortunate that the moves to get a structure for organized labour has stalled for about six years even though the process was expected to be completed within six months.

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