General News of Wednesday, 16 January 2013


ICU Conference in Kumasi


Comrade Chairman, Members of the National Executive Council of ICU Ghana, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Invited Guests, Fellow ICUans, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This 9th Quadrennial Delegates Conference is indeed a very historic occasion, an important milestone in the forward march of Ghana’s organized labour to at all times become a formidable national entity to reckon with in the developmental affairs of the Republic of Ghana.

About 52 years ago, the ICU emerged from the sacred womb of Organized Labour first in the form of the Union of Distributive Retail and Allied Workers (UDRAW), second in the form of the Commercial and Allied Workers Union (CAWU) and finally as the Industrial Commercial Workers Union – Ghana (ICU –Ghana).

The ICU has grown and survived due to the pioneering sacrificial roles of Labour Stalwarts like Comrades: B.T. Bartimeus, Jeo-Fio Meyer Eburah, Surpriser Sowah, N.N. Morton, Kumadey, Tetteh Dorgbenasey, H.T. Imbiah, Kambi, J. Assubonteng Nii Amartey, E.A. Cowan of Nigeria, John Alex Hamah and others, but in particular B.T. Bartimenus the first General Secretary of UDRAW, CAWU and ICU must be singled out for his foresight, organizational skills, patriotism, dedication and inspiring leadership which made it possible for us to reach our present height of unprecedented and gargantuan achievements in the industrial relations disciplines and the “largest heterogeneous trade union in Ghana”.

Comrade Chairman, it is also important to take notice of the significant organizational and administrative strides achieved by the present ICU leadership despite the complex problems and interruptive gabs in the activities of the union due to inter and intra trade union disputes and disagreements. We must thank God, that the steel determination, courage, professional competence and selflessness of the present ICU leadership has seen the ICU through those critical and nerve racking periods.

I wish to congratulate the present Leadership of ICU led by the man I have dubbed the “APOSTLE” of Trade Unionism, GILBERT AWINONGYA, the General Secretary, supported by his able lieutenants led by the affable SOLO-SOLOMON KOTEI, Deputy General Secretary. Comrade Chairman, it is my hope and prayer that the new leadership which will emerge from this conference will try hard to create an appropriate platform for negotiation, consultation and reconciliation to facilitate the return of all splinter unions to the fold of ‘MOTHER’ ICU-Ghana and for ‘Mother’ ICU-Ghana to go back unconditionally to ‘GRANDMOTHER’ Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC).

Comrade Chairman, without unity the trade union movement in Ghana will collapse and workers’ solidarity and bargaining power muted. Our democratic dispensation should strengthen but not undermine Trade Union Unity.

In Ghana today there is a dangerous trend by some foreign and local elements to introduce what they term “ENTERPRISE UNIONISM”. This strange manifestation is nothing other than a negative and dangerous organizational incubus introduced to kill democratic trade unionism and revert to what prevailed in the post-independence era;”HOUSE UNIONS”, where usually the African General Manager was the Union Chairman, the African Administrative Manager was the Union Secretary, while they were still management members.

We must all stand up as one man behind the dynamic Secretary-General of the TUC, Comrade KOFI ASAMOAH and his able comrades in the Councils of Organized Labour to fight and eliminate this canker, scourage and bane of Labour Unity—“ENTERPRISE UNIONSIM”. ICU must wake up and lead the fight!

Comrade Chairman, Organized Labour of Ghana must not be solely concerned about issues of bread and butter and working conditions of workers, but also about the political situation in Ghana. Today there is an uneasy calm in the country. The political atmosphere is a bit blurred and the country is polarized. Trade Union Leaders must watch the happenings in the country to make sure that nothing goes wrong to plunge this country into civil strife and political violence and possibly turn Ghanaians into hopeless and hapless refugees in other countries. God forbid. Organized Labour should ensure that democracy becomes a way of life and system of governance in Ghana.

We want peace. We need peace always, for without peace nothing is possible. I appeal to all political party leaders, their rank and file members, traditional rules, religious leaders, opinion leaders and civil society in general to be circumspect with their speeches and utterances. Insults, character assassination and hate talk must stop to thaw the charged political atmosphere.

Comrade Chairman, I want to leave a peace mantra through this conference to the people of Ghana. The peace mantra were words spoken by the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Federal Prime Minister of Nigeria at a time when things were knocking things in Nigeria. He said and I quote: “WORDS ARE LIKE BULLETS ONCE UTTERED DIFFICULT TO RECALL”. Unquote: you will know what bullets can do. Please let us control our utterances to achieve peace, unity and tranquility in Ghana.

Comrade Chairman, I want now to give a short commentary on your theme:


Comrade Chairman, it is a good idea to “Buy Local” and a good idea to “Secure Jobs and Reduce Poverty”. The stakeholders in this exercise are the government, employers the (private sector) and the workers (the people).

? You cannot buy local if there is nothing produced locally and of good quality and affordable.

? You cannot secure jobs if there are no job creating avenues and no reliable economic growth strategy involving the private sector, thus making the government the largest employer of ‘ADMINISTRATORS and MESSENGERS’.

? You cannot reduce poverty if government pursues a haphazard strategy for eliminating poverty.

? Government should rather focus largely on its primary responsibility, the challenge of seeing the development of the country as essentially human development.

? There should be serious emphasis on the PRIMACY of AGRICULTURE as a means of eradicating poverty – giving food to the people and providing RAW MATERIALS FOR AGRO ALLIED INDUSTRIES.

? Provision of free quality education up to nationally acceptable levels.

? Provision of health facilities and making them accessible and affordable to the people.

? Labour must also become a responsible, respected and powerful ally in the developmental arena of stakeholders.

? Government should from time to time let organized labour know about the possibilities of the national economy to influence and inform labour about its demands for high wages etc. to forestall incessant labour disputes and strikes which are injurious to continuous economic development.

? Government should try to fight and eradicate corruption, red-tapeism and waste in state organizations and ministries.

Comrade Chairman,

? Democracy will thrive when poverty with all its ramifications and complexes is eliminated or reduced drastically.

? Poverty will RUN AWAY when and if democratic practices and ethos become the functional order of the day in Ghana.

Comrade Chairman, I thank you all for your rapt attention. On behalf of the Veterans of Organized Labour and on my own behalf wish you a very successful conference.

God bless Us All.

Long Live Ghana,

Long Live GTUC, ICU-Ghana and Ghana’s Organized Labour.

Long Live International Workers’ Solidarity.

JOHN ALEX HAMAH—E-MAIL [email protected]

TEL: 0277 736651 // 020 1550421 // 0303205659.