2012 MAY DAY: STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL UNION OF HARBOUR EMPLOYEES GHANA (NUHEM)
5/1/2012 8:27:32 PM -
May Day or International Workers' Day is here with us again. As we all know, May Day symbolizes the common struggles of workers worldwide. On the occasion of May Day 2012, the 126th anniversary down the line, the National Union of Harbour Employees Ghana (NUHEM) salutes the gallant working men and women of Ghana and urges them to rededicate themselves to the true ideals, values and aspirations of the Martyrs of May Day.
Two years ago, we cautioned Ghanaian workers against turning May Day into an annual ritual of workers congregating on parade merely to see the President of the day and make merry whilst their problems are put on the back burner and the significance of May Day is paled into insignificance and public relations gimmicks take stage
Last year too, we indicated NUHEM and its members were mourning because majority of our members were being denied their basic trade union rights and their pleas and protests to the powers that be, are unheeded over the years.
Consequently, in solidarity at Ghana Dock Labour Company Limited, Ferro Fabrik Limited/C4BT and L'aine Services Limited/Ghacem coupled with our appreciation of the true meaning and significance of May Day, the National Union of Harbour Employees Ghana is not celebrating but observing May Day in other words, there are no public manifestations or activities.
There is no denying the fact that there are serious problems engulfing the labour landscape and we cannot pretend that trade union rights are not under attack in Ghana. When President Obama told us to build strong institutions and not strong individuals, we applauded but went back to the sleep immediately he enplaned.
If trade union rights are human rights, we fail to understand why it should take workers years of struggle to unionize or choose which union to belong to. There is the perception that some unions are being targeted and the action and inactions of the Labour Department do not help the situation that there is equity in the issuance of Collective Bargaining Certificates which is a great source of worry to many a Ghanaian worker. There can be no peace without justice more so when the same ground rules are not applied.
There is a creeping culture of casualization in Ghana which is synonymous with slavery and must be resisted and uprooted in all its ramifications by workers. The situation where companies are resorting to the use of surrogates, proxies or third parties as employers of their workers instead of themselves must be resisted by all workers. This is nothing than blatant exploitation of labour because at the end of the month, wages or emoluments of workers instead of being paid directly to them are channelled through contractors who in turn pay out paltry amounts to the workers and expropriate the rest. We must commend the Congress of South African Trade unions (COSATU) and the Wharfies of the Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL) New Zealand for standing up against casualization which we in Ghana are glossing over to the detriment of Ghanaian workers and labour in general.
Workers of Ghana must be resolute in waging relentless campaigns against the canker of cheapening the Ghanaian worker through any guise. Core businesses must be made to employ permanent workers at all cost and not casuals in case, equal work merits equal pay which must be strictly enforced.
There is blatant union busting in Ghana and the worst offenders are the anti union employers who incidentally are the first to print May Day T-Shirt and haul their workers to march and smile to the TV cameras advertising their companies and wares at no cost to them before the President of the republic to crown it all.
Though we are cognizant the myriad of problems bogging down labour can neither be wished away nor fixed at a go, NUHEM proffers two (2) suggestions:
1. Decoupling of the issuance of certifications to unions and other related matters from the Ministry of Employment and adding that function to either the National Labour Commission or the Registrar General's Department to prevent an overbearing Minister of Employment from breathing down the shoulders of the Chief Labour Officer to manipulate matters.
2. To avert cases of conflict of interest, members of the National Labour Commission should be made full time instead of part time as currently pertains.
In conclusion, whilst NUHEM concurs that, May Day is an epic occasion in the annals of labour to eulogize those martyrs whose exemplary courage, unparalleled heroism and total commitment to the cause of workers it will never succumb to any machinations or hoodwinking to short-change the Ghanaian worker the name calling notwithstanding.
James Jimah Jebuni