TUC’s Fizzle:The Wrong Protest

KOFI  ASAMOAH   TUC  BOSSAt a certain point in the discourses before the recent organized labour—TUC’s protest, the “Arab Spring” was whisper-mentioned.  The inference did not detail proof of the analogy.

That is, how the comparison to the outcome would, or not be a parallel with an Arab Spring, which for all that happened few years ago, threw governments out of office unconstitutionally particularly across parts of the Maghreb [Arabic North Africa]and the Islamic grid Middle East where it failed. 

In the countries where that pseudo revolution won, the results created destabilized countries, their economies being the worst off — Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  With the exception of Tunisia, the rest both overtaken and not are oil-rich and the oil was not struck into production yesterday unlike Ghana’s today.

Like Ghana though, the economy was central in the strike in those countries; but there were other more important factors in the others such as human liberties, abject squalor and freedom of association which are not part of troubles here.

The brief analysis would have dismissed as misplaced, the muted references to an expectation of breach of disciplined demonstration, descended into the reported disorders and outcomes not brought to resolution yet.    That is to say there might have been an intent that held ultimate desire to lead to a situation that would be similar to an Arab Spring, starting with a provoked skirmish with security, and a pushed viral.  All but the spontaneous spread of acting riot beyond a demonstration to register protest within the limits of legitimate law of rights was the absentee in what is known on the day [24 July 2014].

It is significant and interesting to note that an unexpected like that coincided with the second anniversary of the death of Prof. J.E. Atta Mills, the then reigning President, the first for the country’s history.  The ugly behaviour of the demonstrators [indeed it would be some] aggravated a nation in mournful remembrance; but it said something nasty about the TUC for lack of sensitivity in timing and put skittles under their very ethos, and the relevance of it in governance today — quite emphatically.

At the beginning the public’s understanding was the government and unionized labour had been in talks to find relief exits from complained workers’ hardships. The latter day development was an impasse which shaped the protest which went sour and now alienation with recriminations speculating the break-up of the TUC or even death.  The Union has been shaken with the first possibility under five times apart from Prime Minister Prof Kofi Busia’s splintering via the abolition of the check off [compulsory monthly deduction of membership subscription at source; and that was really a political hit back at the TUC for supporting the CPP in government from before independence into the 1st Republic ousted by the Military/Police coup sympathetic to the Danquah-Busia Tradition — UP/PP/NPP] during the 2nd Republic.

An earlier TUC led by the Rail workers also felt to have similar political attachment was shut out after one of the most devastating strikes in this country shortly after independence.  An outstanding note memoire was a tag on the Railway men by Tawiah Adamafio calling them “despicable rats” in a GBC news commentary.

Recent debacles suggest that the present generation has very little knowledge and especially experience in organized labour militancy. A fading carbon copy which it had pretended and came unstuck in recent years [since not long into President John Kufuor’s first term and in variations on the same theme to date infecting more new Professionals Unions (Medical Doctors —Vehicle spare parts dealers, Butchers, Teachers, Seamstress et al) with the resultant strike-mania scenario today.

While the TUC has not undertaken known published research to appreciate the reasons for the running and fashionable splinter Unions or indeed a potential to secede at the drop of a hat or almost in recent years, a break up at the apex became a possibility since one big union’s temporary secession [before 2010] and an earlier one[late 70s] into an unspoken probability may occur and would be difficult to damage-repair because of the very unwieldy nature.  The irony is that these were apparently encouraged for numbers power game.  After all past and older generations die-hard Trades Unionists say “the Union makes us strong”.  That means the solidarity of big unions, however amorphous.

As far as the heft the TUC has in governance today, it can be said that its might was effectively taken out by the AFRC [Rawlings’ June 4th Junta] when the WDCs/PDCs [Workers/Peoples Defence Committees] arrived, that brief era.  The irrelevance of the TUC was reversed halfedly by the extreme unction given by the Tripartite and that gave back the Unions a national practical significance only on the occasion of salary-wage raise negotiations.

There was little secret that Busia’s “568” was a prelude to restoration of a scattered organized labour by his government.  Col.  Acheampong’s coup stopped it, and ran with and on their support to rule, until relationship was soured by the Students/Unions alternating sympathy strikes alienated the regime [NRC-SMC I] Lt.Gen Fred Akufo’s SMCII paid scant attention to labour in TUC.

Thus how the AFRC was able to easily supersede a moribund TUC in organisation and more in spirit indeed with their PDCs and WDCs, which made fatal mistakes of terrorizing workers not in their fold and Managements into bitterest foes.  The rassemblement of a TUC derived from a combination of the antagonized duet and AFRC/PNDC turncoats not much apparently trusted by the former to re-construct leading to the present whose bark is only a shrill and seriously lack nouveau content as adjunct to national development from respectable strength for production oriented workers’ fair wage share.

One issue was remiss throughout before during and after the debacle.  This is:

whether organized labor did not feel their arithmetic about wage- price ratio imbalance could sincerely be blamed on the State [ie government] whether they could not spell specific alternatives:

whether they are unaware that the economy has been undermined into weakened historically via devaluations and variations on the same theme; and

whether it is not plausible rather to protest for eagle surveillance of the boom in real estate [the cause of the US and European economic crunch-crash] trends and under currents in the rush into micro financing and banks plus money laundering and foreign exchange-hoardings, the danger of drug cartels using any as cover and the frantic imports including the most ridiculous tooth picks.

These are matters to work on.  The recent demonstration brought a pyrhic victory to the TUC, and it is its consequential frustrations for not making an iota of a dent which feeds the talk about a break up.

The idea which is persuasive is to re-think and let its sobering influences fix a productive-sensitive workers umbrella which is culturally, very much with it and versatile for our times.  I may explain the” culturally “using a 60s statement in the US by Roman Catholic Emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi Akwasi Sarpong, that “it is Christianity which must be Africanized” and not the other way round.

The TUC can be relevant by that route.  Organised labour is reforming fast in the world outside.  GNAT in our country, is asking the question of the TUC by example, all the time.

Positive change from ancient strike-mania, would be something new from Ghana, to trade unionism, labour and governance a fine tapestry of working relationship between workers, employers and the State. That TUC is possible in our time.

By Prof. Nana Essilfie-Conduah

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