COCOBOD Workers Threaten Chief Labour Officer

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Workers of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), are up in arms against the acting Chief Labour Officer, at the Labour Department of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Eugene Koriety, and have threatened a massive demonstration and a law suit to get him to grant them their request to get a certificate to operate an in-house union.

The COCOBOD workers, together with their colleagues from Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company Limited, Seed Production Division and many others in the industry, are aggrieved, because they claim, their intention to form a union, proposed sometime last year, is being thwarted by Mr Koriety.

They argue that, the dragging of feet by the Chief Labour Officer, whom they say they have satisfied with all the required documents to warrant the expected certificate, The Herald has gathered, is sending wrong signals to members, who can’t wait any longer.

Having parted ways with the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) and the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), with assurance of forming an in-house union within the shortest possible time, executives of the Cocoa Industry Workers, say they cannot understand why anybody will want to attempt to frustrate their intention.

Earlier this year, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) and Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), having failed to coerce the many workers from breaking away, vowed to prevent workers of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) from carrying out their threat.

Speaking to The Herald ahead of the intended press conference and demonstration, the chairman of the Supreme Consultative Council of the Cocoa Industry Workers Union, Alhaji Idris Hassan said, they have decided to carry out the above decisions, because their colleagues, have began agitating, following the executives inability to form the union for their welfare.

He reminded the Chief Labour Officer that workers of the Board, have every right to form the union and so they won’t allow him to thwart their decision to form a union.

Though Alhaji Hassan, will not want to mention names, he said he did not want to believe the rumour making the rounds that, indeed Mr. Koriety, was being “manipulated” by some “external forces” to frustrate them is true.

He said, if it was the case that the man, who has been tasked to issue certificates for groups to register trade unions, would want to be used at the expense of his hard won integrity, then it is his problem.

Alhaji Hassan said, “We will say it loud and clear that anybody anywhere who says they will not give us the certificate will be infringing on the fundamental right of the people to exercise their democratic right. If he is being used at the expense of his integrity, that’s fine”.

The workers, numbering over three thousand, have threatened a press conference against the chief labour officer, which will be followed with a demonstration, then a law suit.

Alhaji said, the leadership of the workers, is at a lost as to why Mr. Koriety, is delaying the issuance of the certificate, because he had in earlier correspondents, noted that they had met all requirements.

“So for the chief labour officer to keep quiet, it is all over the place, we will be holding the press conference so we can tell him, we will demonstrate against his office so that he can see practical, theoretical cocoa industry workers, we will send him to court.

You have told us that we have met the requirement so the essence of talking about the substantive case, is irrelevant,” he said.

When this paper sought to find out, what could be the possible reason for the delay, Alhaji Hassan said, he could not speak for the Chief Labour Officer, Mr. Koriety, but revealed that a letter dated July 26, 2016, issued from his office, but signed on his behalf by his assistant sent to them said, “we would be grateful to receive your comments on the effect of the failed injunction on the yet substantive case before the Honourable Court to enable us facilitate the issuing process.”

Reacting to the said letter, Alhaji Hassan, said the registrar needed not to bother himself with that substantive case brought against ICU, because the injunction which could have prevented them from forming the association, had been thrown out by his Lordship, Anthony K. Yeboah, of the Human Rights Division 2 on March 3, 2016.

“We felt that was really irrelevant, because what would have stopped us from operating would have been if they had succeeded in placing the injunction on us”, he told this paper,” Alhaji Hassan said.

A letter he said, he tasked the workers lawyers, Sory at Law on August 18, 2016, explaining why they felt their comment on the substantive matter, would not matter in their decision to form the new union, has not been responded to.

The letter read in parts, “We think it important right from the outset to point out the fact that our client is not a party to the substantive suit the subject matter of your concern in your letter to which we hereby respond.

The suit the subject matter of the enquiry is intituled Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) v Iddris Hassan and 10 others numbered HRC/008/2016 in which our client’s chairman and others are sued in their personal capacities and not in representative capacity on behalf of our client.

The reliefs sought by the ICU from the Human Rights Division of the High Court there, will have no effect on our client’s pending application, which as a human rights matter pending before you ought to be treated and given utmost priority and action”.

Efforts to reach the Chief Labour Officer, were unsuccessful but this paper’s sources within his department say plans are underway to address the issue within the week.

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