The Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Ghana (ICU-Ghana) has made a strong call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to rather focus on restoring the country’s collapsed factories first before he sets out to fulfill his campaign pledge to establish new ones.

In the expert opinion of the union, any attempts to construct new factories whilst the old ones have been abandoned to rot away would only amount to an industrial catastrophe. The caution came up with emphasis at the union’s regional congress held in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital.

“The media, this one is not in my speech, but I want you to note it down [on] the factories that we [as a nation] are going to build. We should note that the collapsed factories that we used to have in this region- the tomato, the meat and the rice factories- those ones should be restored immediately before they can add new ones.

“You don’t collapse state institutions, sell state institutions and then bring new ones. You don’t do that and succeed. You revamp, reactivate, revamp the old ones, the collapsed ones, and add more. So, we are demanding for this region the immediate reactivation of the collapsed factories,” the ICU-Ghana’s Deputy General Secretary, Morgan Ayawine, stated strongly.

The union, however, lauded the government’s policy to provide every district with a factory, saying it would help stem the alarming tide of rural-urban migration among the job-seeking young people in the country. Several factories in the Upper East Region have been standing in hopeless ruins since their total collapse struck thousands of employees and families decades ago.

We warned Mahama to fire Dr. Opuni

Attempts to have Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), sacked before the 2016 general elections, after he reportedly had led a plot to collapse the ICU-Ghana for some selfish interests, came to nothing.

The ICU-Ghana’s Deputy General Secretary told the congress the union’s national executives met with former President John Dramani Mahama twice in 2016, pushing for Dr. Opuni’s dismissal, but the president did not act further than giving only a commitment assurance on the removal proposal.

“Dr. Opuni used the money of COCOBOD to form a yellow union and asked COCOBOD workers to [withdraw] from ICU and join the yellow union, the in-house union, to weaken the ICU that everybody sees as a strong union in the country. Dr. Opuni, on assumption of office, decided to relegate his real functions to the background and took to union busting. And we said we would not sit down.

“He did a whole lot of things. Workers who [refused] to dance to his tune were victimised, transferred, some even dismissed. It did not end there. Managers who sought to correct him to do things properly were reduced in ranks and transferred. From the top to the bottom, he denied workers the opportunity to negotiate. When matters got to the head, we decided to take our issue to the President through the Chief of Staff. We were not given the opportunity to meet the President. You go there, and they say meet Chief of Staff. We resorted to another strategy. We would only watch on the day the President is going to launch a programme or attend a programme; we would cross him there,” the Deputy General Secretary said.

Continuing, he disclosed: “So, last year, we decided to cross the President, John Mahama, at Wa, on May Day. After his address, we took some time with him. It was a standing meeting. We didn’t sit down. We were all standing. Everybody was watching. We told him that, please, on reaching Accra, sack Dr. Opuni. We said you should be thankful to the ICU because we don’t want to create industrial upheaval in this country because we want you to have your peace of mind to govern this country. But when worse comes to worse, we cannot help but use our last tool.”

Mahama planned post-election sack of COCOBOD boss – ICU

The former president, according to Mr. Ayawine, directed the union to document their grievances and forward the petition through the Chief of Staff to him as a reminder.

“We told him we had already submitted documents. But he said we should resubmit. He said he had asked Dr. Opuni and Dr. Opuni also denied and said other things, but told us that he would study the case. We went to Accra and it was very difficult to see him. Then, we crossed him again at GIHOC (Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation) when he went there for an inauguration.

“He said, ‘When I went to office, I studied the document and I think you are really making a case. But I’m pleading with you, just give me time, immediately after the elections I will fire Dr. Opuni.’ He was going to fire Dr. Opuni after the elections, by which time Dr. Opuni would have even plundered the resources of COCOBOD and all of us, Ghanaians, would be the losers. Now, it has gone the other way round,” Mr. Ayawine stated as the audience laughed inwardly in solemn memory of the anticlimax suffered by President Mahama himself at the 2016 polls.

Akufo-Addo restored life at Cocoa House

Whilst lamenting the alleged failure of the Mahama Administration to deal with the COCOBOD management as decisively as the union had wished, the Deputy General Secretary hailed the final dismissal of Dr. Opuni by the current government, saying President Akufo-Addo had brought life back to COCOBOD.

“I would have been the happiest man on this earth if John Mahama was the one who fired Dr. Opuni. He didn’t do it for me. He allowed a new government to do it. One week after inauguration, President Akufo-Addo launched a tsunami in COCOBOD. Dr. Opuni has been fired! Then, the following week, 13 of the directors scattered! Later, 7 of them, including the so-called almighty Hassan, have been fired and handed over to EOCO!

“And it is the first time in this country that people from the opposition party would jubilate over the dismissal of Dr. Opuni. Honourable Koku Ayindoho and the youth of the NDC in the Volta Region came out publicly- it is in the papers and it was on radio- that they hailed the action the government had taken with regard to COCOBOD. It is strange but it is interesting, because, according to them, Dr. Opuni contributed significantly to the defeat of the NDC. That is why the people are peeved. Life is back in Cocoa House. Jubilation in Cocoa House. Workers are calling- ‘ICU, come’- and we shall go there,” the Deputy General Secretary proclaimed, prompting applause from the assembly of delegates.

The regional delegates’ congress comes ahead of the union’s 10th quadrennial delegates’ conference slated for August, this year, in Kumasi, Ashanti Region. It saw the election of seven regional executives as well as thorough deliberations on the union’s challenges, its sustainability plans and a number of national issues bordering on the union’s welfare and future.

The regional executives include: Mubarak Abubakar, chairman; Desmond Mba, vice chairman; Rudolph Agamu, regional officer; Hilda Adams, trustee; Majeed Salifu, executive member; Deborah Atiah, women’s wing representative and Eugene Seidu, youth chairman.