Feature: A Case Brewing in the Pots of TUC and its Local Unions

In a typical capitalist world, the employer whose focus is on profit making, considers labour as the most important factor of production and does everything possible to take good care of the workers so that they would bring out their best and that would reflect in good returns.

For example, a big industry that would employ at least five hundred direct workers, would get them free accommodation, possibly putting up workers’ flat or bungalows; free health care and free basic education for their children.

And, of course free bus rides for the workers and families to and fro town to go about business and social matters. And every month all workers are given a generous allocation of what is produced at the factory.

At the end of the day, the workers are paid on average GH¢1,500.00 a month.

In another industry, very similar to the one above, but which is in a socialist system, the workers also get paid on average, GH¢1,500.00.

However, in their case, they are responsible for their medical bills, children’s school fees, accommodation and transportation. If they want any product from the factory, they had to pay for it, at the going factory rate.

It is very clear, which worker would always be content and work his heart out while protecting all interests of the industry and which worker would not give it all in the work he does and even make sure he steals from the industry to make ends meet.

State driven industries in the developing countries, are marked down with low productivity, poor products, high cost of production and heavily losses.

During the CPP era of Kwame Nkrumah, the state farms were made a political showpiece meanwhile they were one of the avenues of loss generation in the economy.

Workers who felt they were not well taken care, would report to work, pick up some inputs and farm equipment and leave to their private farms nearby to cultivate them for profit.

Meanwhile, the state farms keep running down, but government with vain pride would keep on pumping funds and resources into such sectors which continue to leak badly.

For the protection of the ordinary worker, the state supported the establishment of unions in every work place with a national one, to make sure that the worker is protected from management.

Many a times in this country, such a union like the Trades Union Congress (TUC) would come out and make fiery statements against management and even government when it felt the workers are under paid or over worked, in simple terms, the worker is not treated properly.

We frequently hear workers going on strike in demand for pay rise and better working conditions and their actions get fully endorsed by the mother union.

Meanwhile, these workers directly contribute to low productivity at their work places due to laziness, lack of punctuality at work, pilfering of work items and even directly stealing from the cash till.

The mother union, will not look at things wholly to arrive at the decision of whether the workers deserved salary increment or not.

Red bands are distributed and workers are thrown out on the work place compound or on the streets shouting “choooboiii” and deciding not to sit down to be cheated.

At the end of the day, management would go into negotiation with the workers and increase their pay, but during those discussions, no where would the means to increase productivity come in. It would be all about the workers’ welfare but not the workplace’s welfare.

TUC and the workers’ union under it have all fought for the rights and privileges of the worker and at all times the unions are seen to care only about workers and nothing else.

There was this gentleman, who worked as an administrative secretary from 2012/2013. In December 2016, he was transferred to Wa in the Upper West Region.

As a new person in town, he faced serious accommodation challenges and wrote to head office, asking for logistics and refund of some expenditures he incurred that obviously should not have been his cost.

He wanted his family to join him up North. Head office responded that the amount demanded was too high, but did not give him anything that would be deemed, okay.

Head office went on to block his salary account in April 2017 and thus left him stranded with no money, hundreds of kilometers far away from home. The staff was denied access to the head office, which rather went on to block his salary account in April 2017.

He came down to deliver the bereavement notice of his mother, only to be given his termination letter. He was never granted the opportunity to be heard and had not been promoted for a period. In his plea he sought for reinstatement, to be paid for his redundancy and to claim all other benefits.

The head office in defence, claimed that the staff was posted to Wa as a senior industrial relations officer on December 22, 2016 and was paid GH¢600.00 to cater for his transportation to his new station.

He was further granted a salary advance of GH¢1,648.00 to assist him with his accommodation at his new station. The staff could have been given more but for his other loan commitments to his bankers and staff union credit scheme.

The staff, according to head office was at his new station from December 22, 2016 to March 19, 2017. He was back to Accra on March 21, 2017.

He had squandered GH¢2,500.00 meant for official business and brought an astronomical bill of GH¢16,613.00 in respect of accommodation and haulage, which head office declined to pay.

Head office placed an embargo on his salary account on April 26, 2017 for him to refund the amount he had squandered. The staff could not repay that amount and the embargo was lifted on May 31, 2017.

Head office, on humanitarian grounds, granted him another opportunity to either report to his new station or consider himself sacked. The staff never reported to Wa and so on September 18, 2017, his appointment was terminated.

This matter was put before the National Labour Commission on March 9, 2018, which after deliberating the issues, found out the staff was entitled to 90 days per diem for transfer or accommodation, which unfortunately was not paid him. This was at variance with Section 10 of the workplace’s Conditions of Service.

The Commission declared that the workplace should calculate and pay the staff, his outstanding leave if any and should submit to the Conditions of Service and pay the staff one month pay for each year, he served at the workplace.

This declaration was made on June 2, 2021 and reports alleged that this workplace is yet to submit to what the Commission had ask it to do; it had not paid the worker his due.

This is a case for the TUC to stand up and fight for that worker. How could a staff be transferred very far from home, a journey that can take half a day and about 696 kms, and given only GH¢600.00 and later given a salary advance, of GH¢1, 648.00 to sort himself out.

This means he was to take care of any expenses that would come out of that transfer. Meanwhile the work place knew, this poor worker should be given 90 days per diem at no cost to him.

The National Labour Commission clearly saw the mischief in the conduct of the workplace and came out with good judgment and declaration.

However, all this while, where is the TUC? In cases like this, the TUC would have held a press conference and would speak on air, about the rights of such a worker, drawing public sympathy to the worker and condemning the establishment.

Why is the TUC so quiet on this matter?

Ladies, gentlemen and others, good whatever to some of you. This account is a true one and the poor worker or complainant is called Peter Brew Jnr and the Local Government Workers Union is the respondent. Yes, a union is involved here so it may not be wise for the TUC to come out and condemn its own.

This is then, not fair. If the TUC and its unions could rise up and ask members to put on red bands and go on strike to protect the workers of other establishments, why could they not treat workers under their employment what they think is right and what they always stand for?

Recently, there have been calls for strikes and demonstrations in the air. With the way TUC and its unions treat their workers, I will suggest they stay out of any strike action or demonstrations against any establishment, especially, government.

The TUC and its unions no longer have any moral right to talk for workers because they treat their workers worse than what other workers face in other workplaces.

Peter Brew Jnr. has brewed the unions’ pot over and all can see what is in the pot.

Hon. Daniel Dugan


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