Former Ghana’s High Commissioner to India, Lawyer Sam Pee Yalley has accused the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime of being responsible for the present emasculated state of the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
According to him, the TUC has ceased to be the once powerful tool for development and a protection buffer for workers in the country, not because of the making of the workers, but as a result of “undue political influences”.
The former diplomat also alleged that the introduction of certain IMF policies, affected the efficacy and productiveness of trade union activities under the umbrella of the TUC.
Contributing on Radio Gold’s ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ weekend talk show as a panelist on the current state of trade union groups in Ghana, Sam Pee Yalley explained that the Trades Union Movement he joined in 1977 was the strongest as the unionists had the commanding power to speak for the government to listen, but the story changed when PNDC took over power.
“We cannot look at the present situation of event to as it were categorized the contribution of Ghanaian workers without any historical perspectives…I joined the trade union movement as a strong activist in 1977 and those were the days up to 1984, those were the days that the trade unionists speak and the government listens. I am talking about the days of Issifu Ali and Ampiagyei, LGK Okloo… the current state of the TUC has not been the making of the workers but it has been undue political influences and sometimes charged activities of government”, he recounted.
He further claimed that “when the PNDC took over first, one of the key areas of attack was the TUC; some of us who were key members of the TUC and leftists were surprised because the PNDC was supposed to be a leftist organization, so on what grounds will the PNDC attack the TUC?”
“…we met and complained that we are leftist organization and the PNDC is supposed to be a leftist organization, maybe we have not aligned ourselves properly…we said let us demonstrate to show our solidarity to the chairman of PNDC at the Gonja barracks at the Burma Camp; surprisingly when we got there, we were rather beaten; we were mercilessly beaten and our leader Issifu Ali at that time had to go on an exile….since that time, the influence of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as a power tool of development, protection buffer for the workers started dwindling,” he added.
Touching on the impotence of the current TUC following the introduction of IMF policy of retrenchment and restructuring in the public sector, he said the numbers of the union significantly decreased as a result of the IMF Conditionalities.
“As if that was not enough…I must be very frank as a statesman, sometimes you need to spill out the truth so that we correct ourselves; we brought this capitalist policies and these capitalist policies are not in consonance with the desires and aspirations of workers because as workers we act in solidarity, we act in our numbers but this structural adjustment actually reduced the numbers of the Trade Unions in the establishment”, he stated.
“It is a pity that we find ourselves in the current state of the worker; a state where nobody is protecting workers rights, a state where workers can be dismissed and it doesn’t matter and doesn’t bother anybody…Worse of all, we also introduced the Workers Defense Committee as rivals to the Trade Union Movement in the workplaces; so whatever we find the Trade Union Movement now, it is as a result of historical issues”, he reiterated.