A SPEECH BY SECRETARY GENERAL OF TUC, DR YAW BAAH, AT THE COMMISSIONING OF THE REFURBISHED TRADE UNION HALL BY PRESIDENT NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO

The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo;

Honorable Ministers of State;

H.E. Brother Pedro Gonzalez, Ambassador of Republic of Cuba to Ghana

Secretary General of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Brother Arezki Mezhoud;

General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation for Africa Region, Brother Kwasi Adu-Amankwah;

Our Special Guests;

My Colleague Trade Union Leaders (past and present);

Sisters and Brothers;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Almost four years ago, on 30th October, 2016, the then flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, paid a visit to the Trade Union Hall as part of his campaign to be elected the President of the Republic of Ghana. At the time, the Hall was in a very poor state.

As newly-elected leaders of the TUC, my colleague Executive Committee members and I were very unhappy with the poor state of the Hall.  So we led the efforts to change the situation. 

Today, we are very happy and proud to welcome the President and all our Special Guests to  a newly-refurbished Trade  Union Hall. We thank the Almighty God for making this possible.

According to our records, the Trade Union Hall was built with a loan of 200,000 Pounds granted by the CPP Government. Government also donated the land for the building. Ghana National Construction Company (GNCC), a joint venture company formed by an Israeli company, Solaboney, was contracted to build the Hall of Trade Unions to the third floor. Construction started in 1958. Mr. Victor Adegbiteh was the Architect. The Contractor (GNCC) was given the opportunity to build the 4th and 5th floors and used the two floors as its offices and transferred them to the TUC after the tenancy expired. Upon completion of the construction of the building in 1960, the CPP Government converted the loan into a grant, in recognition of the role TUC played in the social, economic and political development of Ghana.

On 9th July, 1960, a similar ceremony was held here to commission the new Trade Union Hall. Honourable Kojo Botsio, the then Minister responsible for Labour, commissioned the Hall on behalf of President Kwame Nkrumah. This building has served as the head office of TUC and its affiliates for sixty out of the 75 years existence of TUC (TUC was established on 8th September,1945 in Sekondi). This is where the spirit of unionism in Ghana resides.

The Hall now has 175 rooms including 132 offices; 3 conference rooms, a clinic (We will work with Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health to upgrade it so that we can have a resident medical officer in the Hall); there’s a bank (Golden Pride Savings and Loans Company which is fully-owned by Ghana Mine workers Union of TUC (We have plans to upgrade the bank to a Labour Bank and establish branches in all 16 regions to provide loans to workers  for housing and consumer items including cars); we have a canteen that serves breakfast and lunch; and we have a post office. All the necessary equipment and gadgets have been installed to provide uninterrupted access to internet and other services. There are installations to protect lives, in the unlikely event of fire outbreak. Two new lifts have been installed. The fence wall has improved security in the Hall. We have also ensured that there is uninterrupted supply of electricity and water as well as provision of sanitation services. 

In this modernized state, we believe that the Hall can continue to be the home of TUC and its affiliates for the next 75 years and beyond, if we give it the attention it deserves. We also believe that the Hall will continue to be a symbol of peace, unity, and solidarity among the working people of Ghana.

Now I would like to thank all those who helped us to modernize the building. First, I thank my colleague Executive Committee Members for their vision and can-do spirit. I was very lucky to be elected Secretary General of TUC in 2016 along with leaders who are visionaries and doers. Today, if we are here to commission a newly-refurbished and a modernized Trade Union Hall it is mainly because of the vision of the Executive Committee. Let me take this opportunity to pay special tribute to my colleague Executive Committee Members:  Brother Rev. Richard Kwasi Yeboah (Chairman of TUC), Sister Philomena Aba Sampson (Vice Chairperson of TUC), Brother Alex Nyarko-Opoku (Vice Chairman of TUC), and Brother Joshua Ansah (Deputy Secretary General of TUC).  God bless you! 

Next, we thank all national unions for their financial contribution towards the refurbishment and for supporting our vision to modernize the Trade Union Hall. May God bless you! 

On behalf of the TUC Family, I would like to thank the President of the Republic and his government for the financial support. Without that support we will not be here today.

We have reserved a very special thanks and appreciation for Honourable Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance, for his invaluable contribution to the development of the trade union movement and social partnership in Ghana. I am very happy and proud to announce that Honourable Ken Ofori-Atta has been nominated by the Executive Committee of TUC for a very Special Award which will be presented by the President at this ceremony. Honorable Minister, may the Good Lord bless you, your family, and all your efforts towards restoring confidence in our economy, especially after the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on almost all sectors of the economy. We thank the Deputy Ministers for Finance, Hon. Abena Osei Asare, Hon. Charles Adu Boahen and Hon. Kwaku Kwarteng, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Patrick Nomo and their team of dedicated staff for their support. 

We thank the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Honourable Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Deputy Minister, Honourable Bright Wereko-Brobby and their team at the Ministry for their support. The Minister for National Security, Honourable Kan Dapaa and his team joined the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to help resolve some disagreements that nearly derailed the refurbishment works. Thus, government did not only support us financially but, through these ministries, it ensured that the refurbishment is completed successfully and peacefully. We appreciate all your efforts, Honourable Ministers. 

Next, we thank the consortium of contractors led by Mr. Chris Buckman (Principal Architect of Archi-Dev Consult). Special thanks go to Mr. Ken Ando, the Project Manager who made the project site his home for more than two years to ensure that the project is completed on schedule. 

We thank members of the Project Committee (Brother Prince Ankrah, Brother John Amegashie, Brother Ken Kodua, Brother Joshua Ansah, Sister Naomi Naadu Lartey, Brother Gabriel Donkoh, Brother  Eric Amoadu-Boateng, Brother Richard Acheampong, and Brother Fred Twum Yeboah).

We thank our Project Consultant, Mr Samuel Jassie-Sarkodie of Izmatrix Architects and Development Consultants of Tema for his invaluable advice and all the efforts he put into this project. 

Ghana Employers Association was there to support us. We thank Mr. Terrence Darko, former President of GEA and the current President of GEA, Mr Daniel Acheampong for their support. Dan was the Chairman of the three-member Mediation Committee that was constituted by Honourable Minster for Employment and Labour Relations to help us to settle some disagreements out of court. The other two members of the Mediation Committee were Honourable Ofosu Asamoah (Executive Secretary of National Labour Commission) and Mr. Kwame Ofori-Gyau (Group Human Resources Director of GTP).  They did an excellent job. May the Good Lord bless them!

Special thanks go to the Managing Director of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Mr. Kwame Agyeman-Budu  for granting our request for a dedicated transformer for the Hall. We thank the ECG Engineer for Accra West, Ing. Ankoma who worked tirelessly to ensure that we have power in the Hall. 

We thank GCB Bank for granting our application for loans for the refurbishment and Ms. Oforiwaa Benneh of GCB for facilitating the loan process. 

We thank our  lawyers Brother Akoto Ampaw (a.k.a Sheey Sheey), Sister Kate Osei-Kuffour and Brother Charles Bawadua for representing  us in court and for providing excellent legal advice to the TUC.  

At some point we needed the Ghana Police Service to provide security services at the Hall. We thank the leadership of Ghana Police Service for their help when it was crucially needed. 

I would like to thank all staff of TUC for their support. Brother Fred Twum Yeboah (Head of IT) and Brother Ibrahim Sullo (Deputy Head of Administration) deserve special appreciation for their efforts.

Once again, on behalf of the TUC Family, I would to thank our Special Guest of Honour, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and all our special guests, leaders of TUC and its affiliates (past and present), representatives of Organised Labour Groups and all other guests who are here to grace this special occasion. We know we can always count on your support.

As I said earlier, we believe that the refurbished Trade Union Hall will  be a symbol of unity, peace and solidarity. We should never allow this iconic building to deteriorate to the poor state it got to before the refurbishment. Let us keep it in good condition for future generations. 

All occupants of the building were inconvenienced, especially when we all had to relocate to allow the refurbishment works to go on smoothly. On behalf of the Executive Committee of TUC, I would like to apologize for any inconvenience. But, as we can now see, it was worth it. 

May God bless the Hall of Trade Unions and all its occupants!

May God bless Ghana!

I thank you all for your attention. 

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