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Be Advocates Of Peace - Organised Labour Tells Workers

Mr Kofi Asamoah - Secretary-General of the TUC Organised labour has called on workers across the country to be advocates of peace before, during and after the December 2012 general election.

It said the political affiliation of workers should not break their resolve at ensuring that the country remained peaceful after the elections.

It said it was equally concerned about the increasing political tension resulting in pockets of violence and the use of intemperate language by some politicians and radio discussants.

Members of organised labour, comprising the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and 18 other affiliates, made the call Wednesday at the 2012 May Day symposium on the theme: “Election 2012: The role of workers in securing peaceful and fair elections”.

Setting the tone for the symposium, a former Secretary General of the TUC, Mr Christian Appiah-Agyei, said, “Workers, through their unions, should join relevant state institutions and civil society organisations to develop strategies to sensitise the voting population to how to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.

“While discussing the role of workers in securing peaceful elections this year, may I humbly suggest to all the organised labour groups to develop outreach voter education programmes to be prosecuted nationwide.”

Mr Appiah-Agyei said he was worried about the violence the country had experienced in the ongoing biometric voters registration exercise and that the violence should serve as a clear signal to everyone that Ghanaians needed to gird their loins and seriously work together to secure peace in the upcoming elections.

“We inherited a peace-loving country and so posterity will not forgive us if we destroy this priceless heritage and plunge this country into mayhem. We still have the opportunity to avoid this disaster and the time to act is now,” Mr Appiah-Agyei emphasised.

He said in a democratic dispensation such as pertained in Ghana today, elections were important because it was the process for choosing the President of the Republic and parliamentarians to lead the country for four years.

“This time-tested practice has all the elements of securing economic prosperity and social advancement for the citizenry, as countries with mature democratic governance have shown. Experiences, particularly in Africa have shown that elections can go wrong and result in social upheaval and violence,” he said.

Mr Appiah-Agyei noted that the disruptions that resulted from elections could have very serious consequences for the citizenry in terms of economic and social stability.

He said in mature democracies elections were issue-based and potential leaders offered themselves for elections based on their own ideas.

The leaders, he said, campaigned around issues which, in their opinion, could facilitate the achievement of the kind of society they had in mind.

He said as a working-class movement, trade unions could not sit aloof and watch how the political development process played out in this year’s elections.

“Without compromising your independence, unions have a responsibility to ensure that the electioneering is conducted peacefully and without rancour. It should be obvious to all of us that we shall be worse off in the event of social upheaval, since many of us do not have the capacity to flee the country. The massive scale of job losses and possible loss of human lives on an equally large-scale which could flow out from election-related turmoil is too frightening to contemplate,” Mr Appiah-Agyei noted.

The Chairman of the TUC, Mr Alex Bonney, who co-chaired the event, said the political temperature had started rising, hence the organisation of the symposium on the theme for this year’s May Day celebration.

He said workers had a role to play in ensuring violence-free and peaceful elections, saying that organised labour was concerned about the political barometer rising.

The violence and the use of intemperate language, he said, were not too good and that all workers must be agents of peace.

The other co-chair, Mrs Irene Duncan-Adanusah, who is the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), said it behoved all to ensure that Ghana was peaceful during the electioneering.

The Director of Finance of the Electoral Commission, Mr Samuel Yorke-Aidoo, commended organised labour for the symposium.