Workers of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) have announced that the company has broken away from its mother union, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union(ICU ). According to the workers, all efforts aimed at uniting the two groups over some labour related issues have proved futile.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, the Chairman of the Supreme Consultative Council of the COCOBOD, Alhaji Idriss Alhassan stated that the ICU and the General Agricultural Workers Union ( GAWU) have not protect the welfare of COCOBOD workers.
“Some time ago we negotiated for a 30 percent salary increment with our management and because of the role ICU and GAWU played, they rather went and asked our management if they can pay the increment and pressed on them not to agree”, he said.
He added that COCOBOD workers also pushed for allowance at a point in time to improve the welfare of workers, but the ICU fought against the decision stating that there is no justification for the allowance.
“Can you imagine this, we are explaining to our superiors why we need allowances to improve our lives and the ICU and GAWU rather fight against us that we don’t deserve it”, he said.
Stating further some disagreements, Alhaji Alhassan stated that “what broke the camel’s back is their effort to privatize a strategic company like the Cocoa Marketing Company”.
He maintained that the actions of the union have clearly indicate that it is not interested in the improvement of the welfare of COCOBOD workers, hence the decision to break away.
“We are breaking away, the constitution guarantees freedom of association. The ICU itself broke away from the TUC to form the ICU. Nobody can force us to join an association we do not want to belong to… we are now the Cocoa Industry Workers Union”, he announced.
Even though the matter is in court, Alhaji Alhassan explained that the right to form an association is enshrined in the constitution and cannot be taken away. “In any case, that is not the substantive matter now.
The court has not barred us from forming an association. It is our constitutional right”, he said. He stated that the new union has over 2,000 members of COCOBOD workers and its associate companies.
According to him, the mass endorsement of the new union is an indication that COCOBOD workers have passed a vote of no confidence in the ICU and GAWU. Reacting to the allegations in an interview with Citi Business News, the General Secretary of the ICU, Mr. Solomon Kotei stated that COCOBOD workers could not sustain their argument on why COCOBOD should give them the 30 percent salary increment.
He explained that salary negotiations go through a long process that ensures fairness and accountability; hence the ICU couldn’t have influenced the decision not to grant the workers their demand.
“They couldn’t sustain their demand. At the Supreme Consultative Council we asked them a fundamental question. When you bring a proposal for salary increment we ask you, can management pay such increment,” he said, adding that the workers couldn’t provide any cogent answers.
Touching on the allowance, Mr. Kotei stated that the workers couldn’t justify what type of allowance needed and the need for such payments. He explained that allowances are paid to aid workers in specific areas of their work, but the workers were unable to show how the allowances they were demanding would impact their operations. On the decision to privatize the Cocoa marketing Company, Mr. Kotei stated that the move was a parliamentary decision, debated and agreed by the legislature.
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