Ghana: Unionists train on OHS and labour clauses for better MNC organising

25 trade unionists from West and East Africa attended a three-day training last 28-30 November on occupational health and safety and labour clauses in the context of organising workers in multinational companies. 

The training, which was held in Accra, Ghana, was attended by BWI affiliate representatives from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. It was facilitated by BWI’s staff in the region.

Michael Adumatta Nyantakye, General Secretary of PUWU-Ghana greeted the participants. “We are proud that Ghana is hosting this important training that will help the BWI affiliates in East and West Africa among others, implement the new resolution adopted by ILO in June 2021 which adds the principle of a safe and healthy working environment to its Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,” said Nyantakye, who is also a member of BWI Regional Executive Committee. 

The training centred on how trade unions can use and maximise opportunities created by OHS issues in various workplaces, especially MNCs, to advance their organising initiatives, while building capacities to respond to health and safety concerns. 

The training also discussed the use asbestos in workplaces and its negative impact on workers and their families. Participants were familiarised with the extent of asbestos use in the world or work, particularly in construction and ship-building for insulation and fire protection and for friction materials and filters. Any building constructed during this period is likely to contain some type of asbestos-containing material, which is possibly the most important cause of inadvertent exposure to asbestos.

The latest trends in MNCs, especially those operating in industries where BWI is present at, and their labour practices, were also deliberated in the training. This was reinforced by an interesting exchange with employers from the China State Company, China Railway N°5 and Rolidar an Israelian Company, all of which are operating in Ghana. China State is said to be the first Chinese MNC that signed a CBA with the Construction and Building Material workers’ union (CBMWU) of Ghana in 1991. BWI hoped that the interaction and the new information shared in the training will help its affiliates shape better their organising strategies and improve industrial relations in their respective countries. 

Work plans on how to use OHS and labour clauses in MNCs as tools for organising and collective negotiating were also presented by the participants. BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng urged the represented trade unions to adopt the said plans. She also thanked the Union to Union, FNV and Solidar Suisse for their support in ensuring the success of the training.