Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana

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Content: Discussion papers
DP/121/2000 Labour and Society Programme
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana Kwasi Anyemedu University of Ghana (retired)
P.O. Box 6 CH-1211 Geneva 22 Tel.004122/7998496 Fax. 004122/7998542 E-ma il: [email protected]
The Internation al Institute for Labour Studies was established in 1960 as an auton omou s facility of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Its mandate is to promote policy research and public discussion on eme rging issue s of conce rn to the ILO and its cons tituents ­ go vernm ent, business and labou r. The Labour and Society Programme examines the outlook for labour at the beginning of the new millennium in the light of changes at the workplace and in society at large. Focussing initially on organized labour, the programme seeks to identify approaches and strategies to enhance the profile of lab our as a m ajor actor in civil society, and as a contributor to dynam ic and equ itable growth. Specif ically, t he programme will review the changing environment of labour and unions; docum ent trade un ion respon ses to these ch anges; hig hlight promisin g approaches for trade unions in civil society and the global economy in future; and outline the type of policy and institutional environment required for the growth of free and effective trade unions. This work is undertake n in close co llaboration with international and national trade union organizations and international trade secretariats, and will be implemented through networks consisting of trade union practitioners, academics, research institutes and other policy maker s. These networks, bo th international and regional, will also be a means of disseminating research outcomes to a wider audience. The Discussion Paper Series presents the preliminary results of research undertaken by the IILS. The documents are intended for limited dissemination with a view to eliciting reactions and comm ents before they are publis hed in their final form in the Research Series or as special publications.
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana Kwasi Anyemedu International Institute for Labour Studies Geneva
© Copyright Internation al Labou r Organiz ation (Intern ational Institu te for Labour Studies) 2000 Short excerpts from this publication may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is indica ted. For rights o f reprod uction o r transla tion, application should be m ade to the Edito r, International Institute for Labour Studies, P.O. Box 6, CH-1211 Geneva 22 (Switzerland). ISBN 92-9 014631-1 First published 2000 The responsibility for opinions expressed in this paper rests solely with its author, and its publication does not constitute an endorsement by the International Institute for Labour Studies of the opinions expressed. Reques ts for this publication should be sent to: IILS Publications, International Institute for Labour Studies, P.O . Box 6, CH-1211 Geneva 2 2 (Switzerland).
Table of contents Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 1 1 . Background information .................................................................................................................. 2 2 . Current structure of t he trade union movem ent ....................................................................... 4 3 . Econom ic ref orms a nd t heir imp act on Gha naian w orkers ..................................................... 5 4 . Trade union responses .................................................................................................................... 7 4.1 Attempting to influence policy .................................................................................................. 7 4.2 Adjusting to a changed environment ......................................................................................... 9 4.2.1 Attracting new m embers ..................................................................................................... 9 4.2.2 Trainin g unio n office rs and ac tivists ................................................................................ 11 4.2.3 Negotiating for improved wages and working conditions ................................................ 12 4.2.4 Participating in job creation .............................................................................................. 13 4.2.5 Women and unions ........................................................................................................... 13 4.2.6 Collective action and social alliances ............................................................................... 14 4.2.7 Regional and global coordination ..................................................................................... 15 5 . Sum ma ry .......................................................................................................................................... 16 Bibliography ........................................................................................................................................... 18 Ac rony ms a nd in itia ls .......................................................................................................................... 19
Introduction There have b een tw o princ ipal driv ing forc es of the proces s of glob alizatio n. The first is vastly improved transport and communications which have greatly reduced the importance of geographical distance. The World Bank (19 95) estimates that by 1 960 m aritime tran sport costs were less than a thir d of the 192 0 level, and th ey have co ntinued to fa ll. The jet aircraft has made most parts the world accessible in a relatively short time The fall in the cost of communications has even been m ore dramatic. According to the World Bank, the cost of an international telephone call fell six-fold between 1945 and 1970, and ten-fold between 1970 and 1990, and has continued to fall. The fusion of traditional communications technology and computer technology which has created the e-m ail, Intern et etc. has revolutioniz ed world wide com munic ations and virtually eliminated geographical barriers since there is now instantaneous transmission of information throughout the world. The second principal driving force has been the dominance of free enterprise, market-oriented, liberalized trade policies and development strategy since the early 1980s. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist regim es of Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s has intensifie d this dominance since it removed the major contending econ omic strategies. Thro ugh the med ium of " policy-based lending", th e World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Western donor countries have ensured that an economic orthodoxy which favours liberalized trade and the free flow of capital, though not of labour, has been embraced by virtually all the developing countries. What has been called the " triumph of economic liberalism" is one of the driving forces of globalizatio n. This triumph of neoliberal ideas on economic management, as well as the free movement of goods and capital and the relative immobility of labour, has led to a situation in which the influence of organized labour hasbeen considerab ly weake ned. The n eed to be "in ternationally competitive" has often meant reducing labour costs and increasing profits so as to enhance "shareholders' value." The desire to attract foreign investment has prompted even centre-left governm ents to turn a dea f ear to union preference s. Almo st all govern ments n ow hav e to institute neoliberal re forms: "that have only spelled trouble for labour. Tighter fiscal controls prompted governm ents to downsize public-sector payrolls and pensions. Stabilization policies aimed at reducing inflation and controlling prices in some cases included wage freezes. Liberal trade policies have led to increased competition, which often meant that inefficient industries must shed labour and, in some cases, may be forced out of business entirely. In this climate, unions in many countries have had increasing difficulty delivering tangible results to their m embers." (Newland, 1999). In large parts of the developing world,the economic liberalist reform objectives of privatization, deregulation, and open trade and investment have been introduced mainly through structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), supported by the World Bank and the IMF. Since 1983 the government of Ghana has been implementing such a programme of economic reforms aimed at reducing the role of the state in the economy, increasing the role of the private sector and th e marke t, liberalizing th e econom y and integ rating it mo re fully into the global market. The policies have included p ursued ha ve been fis cal and m onetary re straint; exch ange rate adjustment/devaluation; trade liberaliz ation; divestiture of state-o wned en terprises; and private sector promotion. This paper examines the impact of these reforms on Ghanaian w orkers and looks at the response of organized labour to the new environment cre ated by the reforms. We begin with some background information on the country and its labour market, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghan a and its relatio nship to successive governments in Ghana. The next section presents the current structure of o rganized la bour institutio ns, and the ce ntral role played by the Trades Union Congress. The third section reviews some aspects of the economic reforms introduced since 1983, with special attention to measures aimed at integrating Ghana more fully into the global economy. This section also reviews the impact of the reforms on employment and earnings. The fourth section analyses the response of the Trades Union Congress to the challenges posed by the reforms. First
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we review the attempts made by the TUC to influence economic policy through a critique of some of the reform measures and also by participating in the implementation of specific policies. The objective of these activities has been to mitigate what the TUC p erceives to b e the adve rse effects of the reform measures on its members. The second part of the fourth section is devoted to attemp ts by the TUC to sho re up its declinin g mem bership an d impro ve its capacity to represent and protect the inter ests of its mem bers.
1. Background information
Ghana, formerly a British colony called the G old Coast, attained indepen dence in 1957. It is a small low-income country in West Africa with a population of about 18 million (1997) and a land area of 228,000 sq.kilometres. It had a Gross national product (GNP) of $6.6 billion in 1997 and a per capita GNP o f $370 the sam e year. The political history of the country since independence has been dominated by frequent military interventions in govern ment, with successful military coups in 1966, 1972, 1979 and 1981, a palace coup in 1978, an d num erous uns uccessful a ttempts to overthrow the govern ment, w hether it was in civilian or military hands. Political instability has been the principal cause of the deteriorating econom ic fortunes of the country, which was considered a middle-income country at the time of independence, and had a standard of living which was high for an African country. The past two decades have seen a reasonable measure of political stability. The military regime, which took power at the end of 1981, managed to continue in government despite some challenges. After elections in 1992, it transformed itself into a constitutional regime. Data on the labour market in Ghana has traditionally been characterized by its paucity and unreliability. The Statistics and Research Division of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare has recently attempted to remedy this situation, and the discussion in this paper is based mainly on its Key Indicators of the Ghanaian Labour Market. Agriculture, forestry and fishing provide about 60 per cent of total emp loyme nt; retail trade is the second most important source, accountin g for 21 per cent of total em ploym ent. Manufacturing provides about 5 per cent of total employment; the service industries 10.2 per cent; and construction 2 per cent of total employment. Transport/communications/utilities provide 1.7 per cent of total emplo yment; mining 0.3 per cent; fin ance /insur ance/ real esta te 0.3 per cen t; and wholesale trade accou nts for 0 .5 per ce nt of tota l emp loym ent. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana was formally inaugurated in 1945 when the existing 14 unions registered u nder the Trades U nion Ordinance of 1941 cam e together under a central coordinating body. Associations of workers for mutual protection had existed in the Gold Coast from about the 1920s, but organized trade union activity is usually dated from 1941 when the Trades Union Ordinance provided for the registration of unions, which could be formed by any five workers. The 1941 Ordinance, however, did not confer bargaining rights on the unions. Employers could agree or refuse to negotiate with their employees. Four years after the formation of the Trades Union Congress, a militant nationalist party, the Conventions Peoples Party (CPP) was formed. The CPP was devoted to se eking imm ediate selfgovernm ent, and the ending of colonial rule in the Gold Coast. The party courted organized labour, many union leaders were active in the party, and there appeared to be some coordination of activities between the party and the unions. Thus although a general strike called by the Congress in 1950 was ostensibly to protest against dismissals in the Meteorological Department,the demands made by the workers included a call for the im mediate grant of D ominio n Status to the Gold C oast; and a day after the outbreak of the strike, the CPP decided to embark on a "positive action" campa ign for im mediate self-govern ment. The collaboratio n betwee n the Con gress and th e CPP ap peared to pay off when the party led the country to independence in 1957. A year after independence, the CPP-led government introduced the Industrial Relations Act of 1958 (Act 56) designed to strengthen trade unions in Ghana. The 1958 Industrial Relations Act gave legal backing to trade unions for the first time. It gave legal recognition to the Trades Unio n Congress as a co rporate body. It made collective bargaining compulsory, and the pro visions of co llective barg aining agre ements legally binding on employ ers and workers . It gave legal backing to the check-off system under which trad e unions dues w ere deducted at source. An am endm ent in 1959 made it impossible for any union to stay outside the TUC 's new structure. The CPP government also passed the Civil Service Act and the Civil Service
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
Interim Regulations of 1960 which had the effect of making trad e union mem bership com pulsory for all civil servants. This was intended, among other things, to strengthen the financial standing of the TUC . In 1958 the governm ent provid ed the TU C with the building w hich hous es its Headquarters as a "tribute to the contribution that Ghana labour has made in our struggle for liberation." The Industrial Relations Act of 1958 was replaced by the Industrial Relations Act of 1965 which remains the principal instrument governing industrial relations in Ghana. [A new Labour Code has been prepared but yet to be enacted.] The 1965 Act echoed the 1958 Act, including the provision making the TUC the sole representative of the trade un ion mo vemen t in Ghana . This mo nopoly status has been criticized as contravening ILO Convention No. 87, and the country's constitution. The proposed new Code seeks to make changes in this area. Collaboration between the TUC and the CPP government did not only produce benefits for the labour movement; it also entailed costs in terms of a loss of independenc e . F r om about 1959 onwards, the CPP regarded the TUC as a wing of the party an d felt free to interfere in union m atters in several w ays, includin g makin g appointm ents to leade rship positions in the TUC. This generated resentment among some u nionists, and the difficult e c o no m ic situation in the mid-1960s turned many rank-and -file worke rs against the governm ent. When the CPP government was overthrown by the military in 1966, many workers welcomed the change. The arrival of Ghana's first military regime, however, represented a setback to the TUC in some respec ts. Some of its leaders w ere arrested and held in custody for a while, and the new g overnm ent, the Natio nal Libera tion Coun cil (NLC), repealed section 24 of the Civil Service Act of 1960, wh ich mad e trade unio n mem bership compulsory for civil servants . This natura lly led to a loss o f mem bership. M ember ship in the Public Services Workers Union fell from 40,000 in January 1967 to 26,000 by June 1968 (Arthiabah and Mbiah, 1995). The N LC also im plemented a n IMF-s upported stabilization programme which involved the retrenchment of an estimated 60,000 workers in state-owned enterprises over the period 1966-67. These developments adversely affected the financial position of the TUC. The TUC was to suffer an even more serious setba ck with the return to civilian rule in 1969. The party which won the 1969 elections had been in oppositio n to the CPP before and after independence. It was not known to be a natur al ally of wo rkers and th eir unions. Ind eed the claim was made that many of the party's leaders had "a class-based disdain for union leaders". There was soon to be cause for confrontation between the government and the TUC. At the third biennial congress of the TUC h eld in August 197 0, a resolution was passed calling for a 100 per cent increase in the minimum wage (from C 0.75 to C 1.50). The request was turned down by the government as unreasonable and potentially inflationary. Given the initial mutual suspicions, and fearing that a national strike might be called to support the demand for an increase in the minimum wage, the government decided to strike first at the TUC. On 13 Septem ber 1971 , under a certif icate of urgency, Parliament passed the Industrial R elations (A mend ment) A ct 1971 (A ct 383) to replace the Industrial Relations Act 1965 (Act 229). The new Act dissolved the TUC with immediate effect and empowered the government to appoint a board of receivers to dispose of all the properties of the TUC. The government argued that the TUC as set up by the Industrial Relations Act of 1965 was undem ocratic and an infrin gemen t on the rights of worke rs to associate freely. The n ew Act, therefore, in addition to dissolving the TUC provided that: "Any group of trade unions shall have the right to constitute themselves into any association, federation, confederation or congress of trade unions for the attainm ent of their co mm on aims ." There ca n be no do ubt that the p rimary motivation for introducing the Industrial Relations Act of 1971 was to disorganize and weaken the labour movement. However, the government was able to claim that the Act of 1971 was for the "purposes of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons in terms of the spirit of the constitution". This claim was justified by the legitimate criticism of the monopoly status conferred on the TU C by the 1 965 Ac t. The military took power again only four months after Act 383 was passed. The new rulers who came into power in January 1972 promulgated the Industrial Relations (Amendm ent) Decree of 1972, which repealed the 1 9 7 1 A c t a n d r es t o re d t he I n d us t r ia l R e la t i on s A c t o f 1 9 65 a n d th e T U C .
2. Current structure of the trade union movement
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The Industrial Relations Act 1965 (Act 229) recognizes the TUC as the sole representative of the trade union movement in Ghana. Section 3 o f Act 229 re quires that an y union w ishing to ap ply for a collective bargaining certificate from the Registrar of Trade Unions has to apply through the TUC. The TUC has 17 national unions organized along industrial lines. These and their declared membership are:
Table 1 . T rade union membership 1) Communication Workers Union (CWU) 2) Construction, Building & Material Workers Union ( CBMWU) 3) Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) 4) Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) 5) General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) 6) General Transport, Petroleum &Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU) 7) Health Services Workers Union (HSWU) 8) Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) 9) Local Government Workers Union (LGWU) 10) Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) 11) National Union of Seamen (NUS) 12) Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) 13) Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) 14) Railway Enginemen's Union (REU) 15) Railway Workers Union (RWU) 16) Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) 17) Timber and Woodworkers Union (TWU) TOTAL
1985 7,000 39,553 27, 018 56,138 100,000 29,185 30,000 120,000 35,000 31,085 5,011 63,000 20,000 898 8,955 40,000 18,000 630,843
1998 6,026 36,750 24,834 37,400 86,690 15,683 32,745 106,483 33,126 29,012 1,871 89,324 10,081 884 5,907 31,448 24,334 572,598
Source: 1985 figures are from Arthiabah and Mbiah, 1995, and 1998 figures are from the Secretary-General's Report on Activities of the TUC (Ghana) for the Third and Fourth Quarters of 1998, presented to the Executive Board, Dec. 1998.
In September 1993, a new union, the Textile, Garment and Leather Employees' Union (TGLEU ), whose m ember s were form erly with the Industrial an d Com mercial W orkers U nion (ICU) of the TUC, was registered by the Registrar of Trade Unions under the Trade Unions Ordinance of 1941. As required by the Industrial Relations Act of 1965, the new union, though not affiliated to the TUC, applied through the TUC for a collective bargaining certificate, which was duly granted by the Registrar in October 1993. Thus since 19 93, there has been an eighteenth trade union operating under the Industrial Relations Act of 1965, but not affiliated to the TUC. (The new Labour Code is expec ted to re gulariz e the situ ation.) In addition, there are a number of workers' associations representing public sector employees, which are not certified to operate under the Industrial Relations Act of 1965. These are the Civil Servants Association of Ghana, the Ghana National Association of Teachers, the Ghana Registered Nurses Association, and the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana. Since Decem ber 1992 these assoc iations have had a form of negotiating power w ith their employer (the government) under the Public Services (Negotiating Committee) Law. Strictly, however, only unio ns which hold a colle ctive barga ining certifica te can call a legal strike, as only they fu lfil the co ndition s laid do wn by Act 22 9 to m ake a str ike lega l. These associations and the T UC cam e together in August 1985 to establish a National Consultative Forum of G hana La bour (NC FGL). T he Forum does not n egotiate on behalf of its constituent members, but creates a cordial atmosphere for negotiations. The public sector workers' associations have constituted a Joint Consultative Forum. These associations are represented on the National Advisory Committee on Labour, which advises the Min istry of Lab our. At the T ripartite Committee on Salaries and Wage Guidelines, they participate under the umbrella of the TUC.
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
In 1998, a new labour centre, the Ghana Federation of Labour, was established by the Ghana National Association of Teachers, the Ghana Registered Nurses Association, the Textiles, Garment and Leather Em ployees Union , the Lotto Receivers Union, the Cooperative TransportAssociation, and the Tailors and Dressmakers Association. The latter three associations/unions are made up of self-employed operators in the inform al sector. Sub sequently , the Civil Servants Association and the Ghana National Association of Teachers withdrew from the new labour centre.
3. Economic reforms and their impact on Ghanaian workers
Since April 1983, Ghana has been carrying out a number of macroeconomic and structural reforms aimed at reviving the economy. The reforms have covered a broad front, including exchange reforms; fiscal reforms; removal of price controls; privatization; restructuring of the public sector; and ref orms in agriculture, m anufac turing, h ealth an d educ ation. The fuller integration of Ghana into the global economy has been a fundamental objective of the reforms, and a number of policy measures have aimed at achieving this. Of particular mention are the exchange reforms and imp ort liberalizatio n. The prev iously fixed and highly over-valued exchange rate has been replaced by a flexible, market-determined one. In the process the local currency, the cedi, has undergone massive depreciation, from C2.75=$1.00 when the reforms started, to the April 2 000 rate of C4,000= $1.00. The measures taken to liberalize im ports have included the abolition in January 1989 of the import licensing system established in 1961, a reduction in tariffs, and the lifting of restrictions on access to foreign exchange. Conside rable success ha s been ach ieved in increasing Gha na's integra tion into the w orld economy. Exports grew from about $450 million in 1983 to a bout $2,09 0 million in 1998, w hile imports increased from ab out $500 million in 1 983 to about $2,9 00 in 199 8. The trade intensity index (the sum of exports and imports as a share of GDP) increased from 20 per cent in 1984 to 59 per cent in 1997. In line with most of sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana has not been able to attract large volumes of foreign in vestme nt despite vig orous effor ts to prom ote the cou ntry as an att ractive location for such investment. Some progress has, however, been achieved in recent years. What has been the impact of these reforms and increased integration into the world economy? Real GDP has grown at an averag e annual ra te of about 5 per cent sinc e 1984. Th is contrasts w ith an averag e annu al rate of ­2.4 per cent over the pre-reform years of 1978-1983. An evaluation of the impact on em ployment is m ore difficult because figures on "recorded employment' from the Ghana Statistical Service terminate in 1991. The recorded figures, based on a survey of establishments, show tha t employ ment ro se steadily from 28 0,000 in 19 82 to 464,000 in 1985, and then began to fall, droppin g to 186,00 0 in 1991 . The decline occurred in both the p rivate and public sectors. The initial increase in recorded employment was largely due to the greater availability of imported raw materials brought about by the easing of foreign exchange constraints, and the lifting of restrictions on imports. The subsequent decline in employment was due to two main factors. The first was incre ased com petition from importe d goods, an d the inability of some manuf acturers to face this competition. Electrical equipment, textiles, clothing and leathe r goods w ere particula rly hard hit by the very strong competition from imports. The second factor was the retrenchment of labour in the public sector. An estimated 73,000 workers were retrenched from 1987 onwards under the Civil Service Reform Programme. Another 100,000 workers are estimated to have been retrenched from the Ghana Co coa Board from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. The layoffs caused insecurity among workers about their fu ture emp loymen t prospects. W ith respect to income s, it is a fact that wage restraint has been a constant feature of the reform programme. In the early part of the programme, wage restraint was deemed necessary as an anti-inflation measure. It was also necessary to ensure that the incentive effects of the exchange rate depreciation for the export sector were not eroded by wage increases. L ater, the em phasis was on the effects of public sector wage increases on the budget de ficit. Currently , it is also emphasize d that "prudent wa ge policies" are necessary to "enhance Ghana's competitiveness and attract foreign investment". Hard data on incomes are as difficult to obtain as employment figures. The Ghana Statistical Service's survey of establishments, which produced the "recorded employment" figures also produced data on " average monthly earnings per employee". These figures, of co urse, also term inate in 199 1. Analys is of the figures sh ows that " real mon thly incomes in 1989 were about double their level in 1980 but decline d by m ore than ten perc entage points b etwee n 1989 and 19 91" (B oateng , 1998) .
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There are indications that real wages have declined since 1991. A survey of manufacturing firms over the period 1992-94 under the Regional Programme on Enterprise Development (RPED) showed that, for the enterprises surveyed, real wages had declined by 9 per cent over the period of the survey. The survey also revealed a widening gap between low-paid and higher- paid jobs. Thus, for instance, w hile the real wages of management personnel had increased by 30 per cent and the real wages of sales personnel had increased by 46 per c ent, the real wages of prod uction workers and apprentices had declined by 13 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. This widening in the wage differential is a result of po licy, as well as Demand and Supply factors. For the public sector, for instance, the governm ent's medium -term programme calls for mea sures "to reo rganiz e the functions of the Civil Service and subvented organisations, reduce staffing levels,rationalise hiring practices, and rais e relativ e pay in favour of ma nageri al staff". It can be said that the changes brought about by the reforms have not been particularly fr iendly to the workers represe nted by the TU C. In a speech delivered at the launching of the TUC/ICFTU "New Approach to Structural Adjustment in Africa" in Accra on 9 July 1998, the Secretary General of the TUC de clared: "(The) standard of living of the average w orker an d fo r th a t m atter the average Ghanaian has fallen during the last fifteen years of adjustment. Unemployment has been high, real incomes have reduced drastically....". The perception of the leaders of organized labour as to the impact of the reforms on their members is important because,irrespective of the evaluation of outside (non-union) analysts, informed or otherwise, the response of the labour movement to the changing economic environment will be determined by what the trade unions perceive it is doing to their members.
4. Trade union responses
The reaction of the TUC to what it perceives as an unfavourable environment has taken many forms, but can be classified into two m ain sets of resp onses. First, the TUC h as attemp ted to influence the (policy) environment and make it less unfriendly; secondly, it has attem pted to adjust to the chang ed environ ment as far as possib le. This has also involved shifts in organizational focus and action. The TUC is trying to adjust to a new environment which itself is still evolving. Therefore some of the responses are only in the form of proposals at this stage.
4.1 Attempting to influence policy The TUC has been aware from the start of the reform process that the changes taking place have serious implications for its me mbers. It has therefore sought in various ways to influence the direction of policy through memoranda, conference resolutions, seminars and workshops, and through representation on bodies dealing with the implementation of specific policies and measures. In 1993, in the tenth ye ar of the eco nomic reforms, the TUC and the ICFTU organized aConference on the Social Dimensions of the Structural Adjustment Programme. This meeting deliberated extensively on the perfo rmance of E RP/SAP in Ghana, and made observations and recommendations on privatization, trade liberalization, external debt, agriculture, small businesses and the informal sector, consultation and participation. The TUC has mad e its views known on government policies, highlighting what it perceives as the negative effects on workers and society generally, and proposing remedial measures. In May 1986, the TUC issued a statement setting out its views on economic, social and political affairs. Reference was made to a comprehensive position paper on the national situation presented to the government in February 1985, as well as other memoranda on economic and socialissues submitted in the previous two years. Expressing regret that these representa tions to the go vernm ent and its agencies "have hardly even received acknow ledgem ent", the statement expresse d in forthright terms the dissatisfaction of the TUC with the prevailing economic conditions: "The situation that we face today is one in which harsh sacrifices are exacted from the mass of the working people in the name of economic recovery at the same tim e that their interests are overlooked.In the name of the efficient utilisation of resources, the basic health,education,
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
and housing needs of the people, as well as access to utility serv ices like w ater and electricity are all continually undermined through increasing fees and prices. In the meantime, selfreliance and genuine mobilisation of the resources of the nation in which the people play a central role has been abandoned for reliance on foreign aid and loans". (TUC Ghana, 198 6).
The TUC thus took the position quite early that the opening of the econ omy to foreign cap ital, and reliance on development strategies imposed from outside were related to the situation in which the interests of the working people were overlooked. This theme was taken up again at the quadrennial congress of the TUC held in March 1988, which addressed among other issues the national econom y. The con gress cam e to the conc lusion that "th e current w orsening e conom ic situation in the country, the brunt of w hich is being borne by the work ing people , is attributable in the main to the conditionalities imposed on the economy by the m ultilateral lending agencies, namely the IMF and the World Bank." The congress called for condemnation of the strict adherence by the government to the IMF/ W orld Bank conditions. The quadrennial congress thus launched a fundamental and frontal attack on the whole reform programme. It requested the govern ment to " discontinue forthwith" the major elements of the liberal reform agenda: currency devaluation, import liberalization, privatization, expansion of exports, decontrol of prices, etc. All these were denounced as not favou rable to the w orking pe ople of the country. The congress, of course, also noted the increasing burden of external debt servicing payments. The 1988 Christmas and New Year message of the Secretary-General of the TUC continued this trenchant criticism of the reforms and the prevailing economic situa tion, detailing the negative effects of the reforms o n organized labou r:
"The year 19 88 has been a difficult year for the working p eople in the country. W orkers have had to p ut in a lot to survive the intolerable hardship. It is five years now since the inception of the nation's Econom ic Recovery Programme (ERP), but although the policies of the ERP affect the various social classes one can say without equivocation that as workers we have fe lt the brunt o f the po licies desp ite the great sacrifices made by us under the programme. The y ear 1988 has not been different from the four previous years of the ERP. As workers we have had to work under severe constraints with the hope that things would get better for us to enjoy the fruits of our sweat and toil, but after five years we are yet to see the light of hope at the end of the tunnel. Rather, things are getting worse from all indications. Employment in the public sector has ceased to grow. In fact, it has declined due to the retrenchment exercise going on. W orkers are becom ing redundant bec ause several local industries, which have been subjected to unfair competition from outside under the trade liberalization programme, has folded up. The army o f the unemployed is now being u rged to seek refuge in the so- called inf orma l sector an d this has broug ht abou t a massiv e increas e in casual work. Men, women, young people and even children are driven to seek insecure, inadeq uate, and even d angero us jobs o n the frin ges of so ciety just to survive . Those of the work ing po pulation in gainfu l emplo ymen t have als o been hard h it by the e ffects of ERP/SAP and they are having to fight to protect their jobs because they are the first v i ct im s of the retr enchm ent exe rcises."
During the 1990s the TUC continued to comm ent on gov ernme nt policies and the national econom ic situation, but the criticisms were muted. With the SAP firmly entrenched, and the prospects for reversal virtually non-existent, recommendations to the government to discontinue the entrenched policies "forthwith" would probably be futile. In addition, the collapse of the worldwide socialist alternative ha s mean t that people e verywh ere have h ad to accomm odate themselves to what appears to be the only viable deve lopme nt path. The TUC h as concen trated its attention in more re cent years on ensuring that the process of policy formulation and implementation is as inclusive as possible in the hope that this will raise the quality of policies and improve the prospects of their being implemented efficiently and with fairness. In this connection, the TUC was one of the in stitutions that p ressed for th e Nationa l Econom ic Forum which took place in September 1997 with the theme Achieving a National Consensus on Policy Measures for Accelerated Growth within the Framework of Ghana- Vision 2020. The TUC took an active part in planning the forum as well as in its deliberations. The Secretary-General of the TUC chaired the syndicate group, which discussed the theme Increasin g Emplo yment Opportunities and Promoting human development.
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The TUC has also accepted, and indeed sought, representation on bodies charged with policy implementation because it believes it can better protect the interests of workers in this way. Thus, although the TUC was critical of the divestiture programme, it nevertheless agreed to serve on the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC). This made it possible for the TUC to fight for compensation for workers laid off in the process of divestiture. The TUC is also represented on other implementation bodies such as the Export Processing Zone Board and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for approving the tariffs charged by public utilities. There has been some debate about the wisdom of the TUC participating in such bodies. Some hold that the small number of TUC representatives are unlikely to influence the decisions taken, while TUC participation will reduce its moral right to criticize the decisions if they are unfavou rable to workers. The dominant view in the TUC, however, is that it is better to ensure that the concerns and interests of labour are taken onto account when the decisions are being taken, because very little can be done later. The TUC reserves the right to criticize decisions taken by bodies on which it has representation. The return to constitutional rule in early 1993 meant that the attem pt to influence policy requires not only memoranda and comments on executive actions or participating in policy implementation. It also requires lobbying Parliament to ensure that legislation takes account of the interests of workers. In 1994, the TUC appointed a parliamentary liaison officer as a means of establishing a formal and continuous relationship between the labour movement and Parliament. The officer has been formally introduced to Parliament and recognized by the House. The officer, who has exhibited dedication to the job, briefs TUC leaders on developments in the House and impending legislation. W hen a Bill is p ublished it is examined for provisions concerning workers, the TUC is alerted, and if it decides to mak e representations to Parl iament, the necessary contacts and arrangements are made. A labour caucus has b een established, com prising mem bers of both the majority and minority parties, and meetings are organized with the TUC to discuss issues and impending legislation of particular inte rest to workers. Am ong the majo r achievemen ts of the TUC's lobbying efforts are the changes effected in legislation on the export processin g zones (EPZ s). The TU C was ab le to ensure that the rights of workers to organize within the zones w ere not com promis ed, and it also secured representation for the TUC on the EPZ Board.
4.2 Adjusting to a changed environment
4.2.1 Attracting new members
Union membership has traditionally been derived principally from junior employees in the formal economy, mainly from relatively large establishments in both the private and public sectors. To counter the erosion in mem bership, there has been a n intensification of the effort to organize selfemployed workers and others in the inform al sector. Increased e fforts are also being m ade to unionize senior staff and professional workers. TUC initiatives to establish links with operators in the informal sector are not new. Indeed, one of the 17 affiliated unions, the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) ranked fifth in terms of mem bership, con sists very substantially of self-employed tran sport operators. How ever, there has been a definite intensification of efforts to "organize the unorganized" as a means of shoring up declining membership. The organization department of the TUC and almost all the national unions are devoting time and energy to meetings with micro and small-scale operators with a view to affiliating them with to one of the national unions. The task of organizing the unorganized appears to be easiest with respect to operators who already belong to some form of association. Thus the Ghana Hairdressers and Beauticians Association has been affiliated to the ICU, and constitutes the most organized informal sector group within the unions. Other grou ps of self-employ ed operators such as butchers (LGW U), carpenters and charcoal burners (TWU), and small-scale miners have been organized. GAW U has also organized groups of self-emp loyed rura l workers. In the capital city , efforts are bein g made to organ ize the la rge num bers of s treet ha wkers , roadsid e trader s and n ewsp aper ve ndors. Unions provide various services to their inform al sector mem bers or affiliates. In some cases, as with GAWU's farmer organizations, there is provision of limited cre dit and help with acce ss to other forms of institutional credit. Many unions provide educational and skill development services.
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
They also provide channels for collective bargaining with public authorities on matters of interest to the operators. In some cases, legal support is provided for members. Based on experience so far, K. Adu-Amankwah (1999) has summarized the main obstacles which have face d union o rganization in the inform al sector. These are the low financial returns from the sector in relation to the cost of organization, the absence of a ready package of benefits to attract informal sector o perators, and lack of pre vious experience in union organization. The financial constraint is likely to be the most serious, for if increased membership only worsens the financial plight of the unions, the sustainability of the membership drive will be jeopardized and the capacity to offer benefits to attract informal sector operators will be weakened. Given the number of redundant workers, some attention has been given to reta ining links w ith retrenched former m embers of un ions. It has been proposed for, instance, that life membership of unions may be granted in some cases. Another approach is to encourage the formation of associations of pensioners and retrenched workers. These may be assisted with training to function as self-employed operators. One such association of m ainly retrenched wo rkers is the SelfEmployed Wom en's Union (SEW U), affiliated to the ICU. T his is an asso ciation of about 300 women engaged in micro and small-scale manufacturing and craft industries. The TUC has helped with their organization a nd has arra nged a nu mber of worksh ops on en trepreneu rship and s mall busine ss deve lopm ent for th em. The unionizati on of senior staff and professional personnel is going to be crucial for the continued vitality of the T UC and its unions. G lobalization and technological developm ents are reducing the demand for unskilled labour while increasing the demand for highly skilled and professional personnel. Unions w hich continue to recruit only blue-c ollar work ers are likely to suffer a diminu tion in num bers. In add ition, senior staff ge nerally earn higher sala ries and the ir financial contribution through union dues can be particularly valuable. Many unions have mounted aggressive membership drives with respect to senior staff and professional employees. Other factors are also working in favour of the unionisation of senior staff. Retrenchment in the public sector, downsizing in the private sector, and the notion that wages and other labour cos ts have to be restrained to make Ghana attractive for foreign investment have made many senior and professional personnel feel as vulnerab le as junior sta ff to possible redundancy and erosion of income. Many senior staff have also realized that being covered by a legally-binding collective bargaining agreem ent puts them on a firmer ba sis for negotiating for improved service conditions than the informal arrangements that their staff associations have had with employers. The intensified drive by unions to attract senior staff has provoked a counter-offensive from the employers. The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) has issued public statements, organized conferences and published articles opposing the unionization of senior staff. The GEA's stated reasons for its opposition are many and varied. There is first the genuine problem of deciding which employees are representatives of employers or shareholders, and therefore to be excluded from union membership. On this, the ILO Comm ittee on Freedom of Association (1963 and 1966) has advised as follows:
"it is important that the scope for managerial staff and the like should not be defin ed so w idely as to weaken (worker) organizations by depriving them o f a substa ntial prop ortion o f their presen t or poten tial mem bership ."
The GEA has tended to define "shareholder's representative" rather widely. In the view of the Executive Director of the GEA, a shareholder's representative is "anybody selected by the shareholder as his representative or any staff whose functions entail taking important decisions which have se rious re percus sions o n the sh arehold er's busi ness, as sets or lia bilities." The employers cite among their reasons for opposin g the union ization of sen ior staff, possib le divided loyalty and misuse o f confiden tial informa tion by unio nized senior staff/ management personne l. The emp loyers also argue that it would be distasteful for managers to belong to the same trade union as their subordinates, or even worse, for union leaders who may be junior staff to direct the affairs of a un ion in which their superiors are memb ers. The emplo yers believe this would tend to undermine or erode the authority of the senior officers concerned. It seems th at the emp loyers are particularly concerned about what they believe would be the negative effect of senior staff unionization on foreign investment. On this issue, the Executive Director o f the GEA has written as follows :
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"The government is invited to take a position on the issue with a view to discouraging the unionisation of management staff. The GEA is of the view that government's efforts at attracting foreign investment may be seriously undermined if senior and management staff of companies is allowed to unionise, knowing the history of trade unions in the country. Foreign investors in particular may feel insecure in the sense that they cannot have loyal senior and management staff they can rely on to ensure increased profitability and reasonable profit, which is the driving force beh ind any investmen t" (K. Amoasi- A ndoh, 1998 ).
The country's constitution and laws guarantee freedom of association and the government has declined the invitation from the employers to intervene. In a statement issued in October 1997, the Ministry of Emp loyme nt and So cial Welfare declare d as follow s:
"The Ministry recognise s the fact that every Ghanaian is guaranteed freedom of association including the freedom to form or join a trade union of his choice. Senior staff members in any enterprise are therefore at liberty to form or join trade unions. However, since the levels of management respon sibility vary fro m on e organ ization to the othe r the M inistry's po sition is that Employe es and Man agement shou ld look at their organizational structures and determine which catego ries of em ployee s should be unio nised."
Both sides in the debate accept the p rescription in principle, the problem is where to draw the line. The unions have been reasonably success ful in unionizing senior staff. The two largest, the ICU and the PSW U, have strong senio r staff representation in their unions. The ICU has about 4,000 senior and management staff from 29 companies among its members, and the companies include most of the major private sector establishments in the country. According to the PSWU senior officers have numb ered am ong their ranks from the inception of the union. The unions have not had things all their own way. The three bigge st unions ha ve all had instances in which management resisted the unionisation of senior officers, and cases of unionized senior office rs renounc ing their union membership.
4.2.2 Training union officers and activists
Within the limits imposed by the prevailing environment, the task of mobilizing members and obtaining improved conditions for them depends to a considerable extent on the skills of trade union officers and activists in the areas of organization and negotiation. The Ghana TUC has recognized this and made th e educatio n of its mem bers one o f its priority con cerns. The preamb le to the TU C's educ ational polic y affirms that:
"Trade union education has clearly established itself as one of the most important services that trade union s can pro vide fo r their m embe rs. Prope rly designed and implemented, trade union educa tion plays an indispensable role in raising awareness among union members and provid ing them with skills to meet th e challen ges that co nfront th e union s."
The institutional arrangements for giving effect to the educational policy ce ntre mainly on the Education Comm ittee and th e Labour College. The Education Committee, consisting of seven mem bers of the Executive Board, is responsible for im plementing all asp ects of the TUC 's educational policy, and is required to promote the full participation of national unions in seeking to achieve the objectives of the policy. The Labour College, which is regarded as the focal point for developing and managing the educational programmes, has the following specific functions: i) Develop study material and provide the technical and administrative support for executing education and training programmes; ii) Train trainers and develop a pool of educators to handle trade union education and compile a list of trainers for the national unions and regions; iii) Implement a comprehensive education and training prog ramm e for the trade union m ovem ent; iv) Liaise with institutions of higher learning for support in programmes; v) Promote learning and studying in the labour movement by organizing seminars, outreach programmes, academ ic and non-academic courses and discussions.
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
The Labour College will certainly need additional resources, material and human, to discharge the above functio ns, but there is already vigorous activity. Training programmes are being organized for various categories of members and officers such as shop stewards, local/branch officers, union staff/fie ld officers, national officers/ members of the Executive Board, and women/ youth activists. Training at the Labour College covers three broad areas; trade union education (collective bargaining, grievance handling, organizational skills, health and safety, conduct of meetings and labour laws); trade u nion history (in Ghana and generally, but with special reference to European trade union history); and special programmes, covering topical issues of interest both at home and worldwide. Basic acc ounting is o ffered for som e levels of of ficers, and the re is said to be a general request for more emphasis on management training. There are some acknowledged problems in the field of education. The first is that there is not enough of it. Financial limitations mean that not as many people as desired are currently being catered for. Another problem is that there is no clear division of labour between the unions and the Labour College as to the courses offered, leading in some cases to avo idable duplication of effort, which is particularly regrettable in view of the resource constraints. Another problem mentioned is insufficient attention to participant selection, leading to persons of widely different backgrounds being enrolled in the same course. This tends to reduce the utility of the course, the level being too low for som e participants and too high for others. The educational programmes of the TU C depen d quite sub stantially on external funding. The courses at the Labour College receive funding from the Netherlands Trade Union Federation, the Comm onwealth Trade Union Council and the ICFT U Afro among others.
4.2.3 Negotiating for improved wages and working conditions
Wage restraint has been a constant element of public policy throughout the reforms, and the current emph asis is on wage restraint as a means of attracting foreign investment. This preoccupation with making Ghana attractive for foreig n investors has produced an alliance between government and private business in opposition to d emands for w age increases by orga nized labour. At the Trip artite Committee, the TUC has had to face the combined strength of the employers and government, who have coordinated their po sition on the minim um wa ge, for instanc e. This gov ernme nt-private employer collaboration is motivated by more than the fact that the governme nt is also an employ er. It appears that the government considers it part of its economic manag ement responsib ilities to ensure that the division of the national value-added between wages an d profits is biased in favour of profits as a n incentive to private inv estmen t. The government and employ ers have su cceeded in installing the capacity to pay of e mployers as virtually the o nly factor to b e taken into account in w age dete rmination. At the same time, deregulation and privatization of the utilities and other vital services have produced steep increases in the prices of these services. This is justified by what is said to be the economic cost of providing the services. There are clear indications that the real value of wages d eclined in th e 1990s. T o a large ex tent, trends in the minim um w age can b e used to ap proximate what is h appening to wages generally since the minim um wage serves as a bench mark for incom es, especially in the low a nd mid dle ranks. The real value of the daily minimum wage (April 2000) is about half its value in 19 91. This is roughly in line with the change in the dollar equivalent of the minimum wage over the same period. In July 1991, when allowances were first consolidated into wages, the daily minimum wage was equivalent to $1.25, while it is now equivalent to about $0.60. The serious ero sion in the income of large numbers of workers is generating considera ble soulsearch ing on t he part o f organ ized lab our and pressur e on w age ne gotiatio ns.
4.2.4 Participat ing in job creation
In the face of dwindling formal sector employment opportunities, the TUC has been mobilizing resources from its members to invest in productive enterprises as a means of creating employment as well as strengthening the financial base of the unions. In pursuit of this objective the TUC has established a Labour Enterprise Trust (LET) which holds m ember s' contributio ns and inv ests the money either by itself or in collaboration with others.
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The decision to institute what has been called an enterprise ownership policy was taken at the quadrennial congress in 1996, and was presented a s an "im portant initiativ e to meet the challenge of job creation and employment security and the need for organized labour to establish itself as an obvio usly eq ual and constru ctive pa rtner in th e nation al deve lopm ent of G hana." The broad objectives of the enterprise ownership policy were stated as: i) to create and secure em ploym ent; ii) to promote the national development of Ghana through appropriate investments; iii) to secure a fair return for workers as shareholders; iv) to strengthen the economic base of trade unions in Ghana; and v) to create the conditions for pro moting wo rkers' participation as an integral asp ect of labour relations in Ghana.
At the inception of the trust, it was expected that all the estimated 500,000 unionize d workers would purchase a minimum of 100 shares at 50, 000 cedis each. The collection of subscriptions was to be spread over 20 months, and by the end of 1998, a total initial capita l of 25 billion c edis (equivalent to about $10 million at that time) was expected to be realized. Actual contributio ns fell far short of the projected sum, however, and at the end of the subscription period only a little over 90,000 ha d been co ntributed, yie lding abou t 20 per cen t of the expe cted initial cap ital. So far the LET has made three major investments. It has purchased a 20 per cent share in a $5 million car park project located in the comm ercial centre o f the capital city of Accra. It is also the majority sharehold er in an insu rance com pany and it has invested in four tankers to provide water at competitive rates to residents in Accra. The LET Board has had to ensure a balance between safe investments and number of jobs created. Only th e insurance company, designed to employ 27 full-time staff and 200 full-time agents, can be said to provide a reasonably large number of jobs but the LET has made an initial modest contributio n to job creation. Upcoming projects include the establishment of a commercial bank, a security service, service stations, and radio taxi services. These will make further modest contrib utions to job crea tion.
4.2.5 Women and unions
Women are under represented in the unions with an estim ated share of 9-10 pe r cent in total membership. This is subs tantially belo w wom en's share o f formal se ctor emp loyme nt, which is about 25 p er cent. The Ghana TUC has a long-standing commitment to mobilize women for the national unions, to encourage them to take leadership positions so that th e concern s of fema le mem bers can be effectively articulated,and also to ensure thatthe policiesof the TUC take account of women's concerns. In accordance w ith this comm itment, a wom en's section was establishe d in the TUC in 1969, and in the same year women organizers were appointed for the regional offices at Kum asi and Ca pe Coas t. The Ghana TU C has formally ad opted a gender policy based on the conviction that "the integration of women and achievement of gender equality are matters of Human Rights and a condition for social justice which should not be seen in isolation as a women's issue." The TUC believes that a gender policy is needed because, owing to the marginalization that women have generally suffered, they need to be treated differently by means of AFFIRMATIVE ACTION in ord er to achieve greater social justice for all members. The broad objectives of the TUC's gen der policy are stated as: i) to create gen der awar eness with in the mo vemen t; ii) to secure proportionate representation within the union structures; iii) to promote the integration of gender considerations in collective bargaining agreements; iv) to strengthen the legal rights of women in society and at the workplace; v) to formulate strategies for the protection of workers in the EPZs and in th e informal sector.
Conside rable emphasis has been placed on increasing the involvement of women in decision making in all the structures of the labour m ovement. In add ition to the wom en's desk at the TUC, seven national unions have set up women's wings and committees at national as well as regional levels. Some unions have also appointed women organizers and coordinators, and there is an increasing trend towards assigning negotiating responsibilities to women. Four unions ­ PSWU, TWU, ICU,
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
and PUWU ­ have wom en on their jo int negotiating committees. The idea is growing that the inclusion of women in the negotiating committees will ensure that the peculiar problem s of fema le employees are taken into account in negotiations. It is expected that the practice of including women in negotiating teams will be embraced by all the national unions. Various training programmes have b een arranged for women organizers as well as rank-and-file mem bers. The TUC is c onvinced that groom ing fem ale mem bers to assu me lead ership positions will help raise its image a nd will strengthen the TUC and the national unions. It is also true, however, that there has been some pressure from the internatio nal trade sec retariats (ITS), to which some of the unions are affiliated, for unions to include women in decision- makin g positions . Some IT S are said to have made this a condition for their unions to benefit from programmes which they sponsor. The activities of the women's desk of the TUC have also benefitted from considerable financial contributions from internationa l organizatio ns and N GOs. Th is pressure or encouragement from outside has been u seful for there are still substantial problems militating against women's active involvement in union work. Some of the problems identified include; lack of knowledge about unions on the part of women; difficulty in combining union work with family responsibilities; lack of confidenc e and unw illingness to compete against men in elections; and preference for men during elections to union offices. On the last issue, there has recently been a welcome development from an unlikely source. The local union of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, which makes up about 40 per cent of the total membership of the Ghana Mine Workers Union, has elected as its secretary a female union member. In the elections, this lady unionist polled about 90 per cent of the votes. The TUC and its women's section, in collaboration with other women's organizations, have been making efforts to improve the economic and social status of women. A large part of this drive has centred on encourag ing the edu cation of w omen a t all levels and countering the social attitudes that tend to give priority to the education of boys. The TUC emphasizes the importance of educating girls. The TUC has also pa rticipated in ca mpaig ns to prom ote the we lfare of wo men in the workplace and in society generally. The women's desk has played a leading role in raising awareness about the problem of sexual harassment at the workplace, and in emphasizing the need for adequate paid maternity leave. The TUC has also been very vocal in condemning violence agains t wom en and in callin g for stiff er puni shme nt for su ch crim es as rap e.
4.2.6 Collective action and social alliances
It has been pointed out (Newland, 1999) that trade unions tend to benefit when they take an expansive view of their role, seeking to represent no t only the co ncerns of th eir members but those of broad-based political parties. In Southern Africa, trade unions such as COSATU have participated actively in popular political and social struggle, and such activities, it is claimed, can enhance the labour movement's popular esteem and boost membership. An extraordinary congress of the TUC in 1969, when a national election was due, decided that the TUC would not align itself with any political party, and that national union leaders should be debarred from party politics. This non-political party stance was reversed by the second quadren nial congress of the TUC held in September 1978, which endorsed:
"the Executive Board 's decision to enter into alliance with other progressive organizations and collabo rate with such other persons or groups of persons that might share the aspirations of the working people for the purpose of fulfilling the labour movement's initiative to create a political force for the defence and protection of the interest of the broad masses of the Ghan aian p eople''(my emph asis). The TUC accordingly sponsored a political party, the Social Democratic Front, to contest the general elections he ld in 1979 . This party was spectacularly unsuccessful in the elections, winning only 3 out of 140 parliamentary seats, and performing badly also in the presidential elections. Suitably chastened by this experience, the T UC sub sequently effected an amend ment in its constitution, which reaffirmed its neutrality in party politics. The TUC has forged alliances with other workers' organizations and other elements of civ il society in pursuit of c omm on objectiv es. Within the labour movement, the TUC has established an alliance with bodies such as the Civil Servants Association, the Ghana Natio nal Association of Teachers, the Ghana Re gistered Nurses A ssociation, and the Judicial Serv ice Staff Association.
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These other workers' organizations and the TUC are united in a Workers' Forum, which deliberates on issues related to the salaries and conditions of service of workers and puts up a common front when appropriate. The TUC as the most representative workers' body often takes a leadership role. In consultations on the minimum wage and other issues d etermin ed at the N ational Trip artite Committee, it is the TUC which represents w orkers, but the TUC c onsults exte nsively w ith these other o rganiz ations a nd inclu des the ir repres entative s in its de legation. Outside the labour m ovem ent, the TU C has often made c omm on cause with civil soc iety organizations such as the Ghana Bar Association, the National Union of Ghana Students and the Ghana Journalists Association in support of national ob jectives suc h as ensurin g free and fa ir elections; promoting freedom of expression; encouraging the independence of the judiciary; and promoting econom ic develop ment an d stability. Freedom of expression has received particular attention in the TUC's endeavours, no doubt because it is so central to the achievement of the other political and economic goals. The TUC has persistently called for the med ia, especially the stateowned media, to be freed from government control. The TUC is currently represented on the National Media Commission, the body charged by the national constitution with responsibility for ensuring the independence of the media and for insulating the state-owned media from governm ental contro l. In Ghana, as in many African countries, distinctions of ethnicity, gender, income and wealth, and sometime s religion constitute potent divisive forc es making for civil strife and social disintegration. There is often a need for conscious attempts at social integration based on a policy of inclusion under which all sections of the population have a say in national decision-making. The rich and the powerful always have their say, the TUC provides an avenue through which the underprivileged can ensure that the interests o f ordinary p eople are ta ken into account. Po verty is often a source of social aliena tion, and the T UC's stru ggles for an improvement in the living standards of working people, and the achievement of social justice generally, make important contributions to social cohesion.
4.2.7 Regional and global coordination
The work of the TU C is greatly aided, especially in the are a of capacity building, by the collaborative interactions it undertakes with international and external trade union bodies in Africa and in the rest of the world. The Ghana TUC is affiliated to the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Some of the nation al unions a re also affili ated to their corresponding international trade secretariats. The Ghana TUC also has fruitful bilateral collaboration with many national trade union centres, particularly in Europe. The Netherlands Trade Union C onfedera tion and its Swedish cou nterpart appear to be the most active bilateral collaborators of the Ghana TUC. As the most representative labour organization in the country, the TUC participates in ILO meetings and programmes on behalf of the labour movement in Ghana. These internationa l connections have proved very beneficial to the TUC in many respects. Through reports, commentaries and other publications of the leading international trade union organizati ons and the ILO, the Ghana TUC is brought up to date on developm ents in the international economy and their impact on the labour movement globally as well as locally. But perhaps the greatest contribution of these international bodies is the organization both locally and overseas of a large numb er of conferences, wo rkshops, seminars , and training programmes on issues of importan ce to the work of trade unions. The establishment of an African O ffice for the IC FTU h as been pa rticularly im portant in terms of generating programmes of support targeted at African trade unions. The main programmes that ICFTU-A fro has brought to theGhana TUC include the 1993 Conference on the Social Dimensions of Structural Adjustment Programmes, a workshop on ex port processing zones, and the rec ently launched New Project Approach to Structural Adjustment. The Organization of African Trade Union Unity has also been active in marshalling trade unions to confront the challenges posed by the structural adjustment program mes in A frican cou ntries. Its activities are, however, hampered by inadequate funds. Financial difficulties also led to the demise of the Organization of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA), although efforts are being made to resurrect it. It is now acknowledged by trade unions in the developed as well developing countries that the challenge of global capital can only be met by unions which have international connections, and
Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
that the forging of strategic links between organized labour groups in different countries is an imperative in an era of g lobalization. Develo ping coun try trade un ions, in particu lar, stand to benefit from the alliances being forged at international level between trade unions, environmental associations and human rights groups to ensure that the rights of workers everyw here are respected, and that globalization produces not only profits for capital but also improved conditions for work ers and the ir fam ilies.
5. Summary
Globalization has altered th e balance of powe r between capital and labour decisively to the disadvantage of labour. The free movement of capital across national boundaries and the intense competition between coun tries for foreign investment have meant that investors'/shareholders' interests are given priority over workers' interests. Supporters of free capital mobility argue that increased inflow of capital produces productivity gains that generate competitive jobs and higher wages. In sub-Saharan Africa, efforts to attract foreign investment have not achieved much success due, in part, to non-economic fa ctors such as civil strife in some countries. This lack of success comp els some countries to try even harder at such policies as wage restraint, further trade liberalization, labour retrenchment, privatization etc., policies which, for the time being at least, appear to disadvantage workers. We have revie wed the p olicies and a ctions that the TUC o f Ghana has taken to meet the challenges posed by this unfavourable environment. These have included criticizing policies deemed not to be in the interest of workers, advocating and lobbying f o r m ore labour-frie ndly policies, extending the covera ge of unio ns to previously unorganized workers, building alliances, and intensifying the education of officers and activists. Some of these initiatives have been mode stly successful. But the labour movement still faces form idable obstacles in its endeavo ur to achieve improved wages and conditions for workers in the country. Substantial support is emerging within the labour movemen t for more radical and robust approaches to defend the interests of w orkers. This is in accord w ith develop ments in other parts of the world where a radical mass "movement for social justice" has eme rged to counter w hat are perceived to be the growing inequalities generated by globalization.
Discussion Papers Series No. 121
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Trade union responses to globalization: Case study on Ghana
Acronyms and initials
American Federation of Labour - Congress of Industrial Organizations Conv entions P eoples P arty Direct Foreign Investment Divestiture Implementation Committee Economic Recovery Programme Export Processing Zone General Agricultural Workers Union Ghana Employers Association gross domestic product Gross National Product Ghana Private Road Transport Union International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Industrial and Commercial Workers Union International Labour Organization International Monetary Fund International Trade Secretariat Labour En terprise Trust Local Government Workers Union National Consultative Forum of Ghana Labour Nation al Libera tion Co uncil Organ ization o f African Trade Union Unity Organization of Trade Unions of West Africa Public Services Workers Union Public Utilities Workers Union Regional Programme on Enterprise Development S t ru c tu r al A dj u st m en t Pr o gr a mm e Self-Employed Women's Union Textile, Garments and Leather Employees Union Trades Union Congress Timber and Woodworkers Union United Kingdom United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investm ent Report World Trade Organization

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