The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has inaugurated the Union of Informal Workers Association (UNIWA) as its 19th affiliate.
UNIWA is Ghana’s first Trade Union for Workers in the informal economy.
The union was established in 2013 by the Trades Union Congress with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung(FES Ghana Office) and the Danish Trade Union Solidarity Centre(LOFTF) under the name council of informal Workers Association(CIWA) to bring together all the associate members of the TUC that are operating in the informal Economy under one umbrella with the mission of promoting and protecting the interest of all workers in the informal economy.
CIWA now becomes UNIWA to reflect the aspirations of the associate members of the TUC to transform the Unions/Associations from associate membership status to a fully-fledged trade Union and the nineteenth affiliate of the TUC.
At the time of its formation UNIWA (then CIWA) brought together all the nine associate members of the TUC with an estimated membership of 18000.
The nine members were : Musicians Union of Ghana(MUSIGA), Ghana Actors Guild(GAG), Ga East Traders Union(GETU) , Agbobloshie Chop Bar Keepers Association, (ACKA), WACAM, New Makola Market Traders union(NMTU), Greater Accra Tomato Traders Association(GATTA), Ghana Union of Physically Disabled Workers(GUPDW) and Ghana Youth Porters Association(GYPA).
Other informal Economy Associations such as Informal Hawkers and Vendors Association of Ghana (IHVAG), Tema Station Markets Association, Odorna Market Association, Indigenous Caterers Association and the Greater Accra Markets Association are now fully fledged members of UNIWA.
Speaking at the founding conference of UNIWA on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, the deputy General Secretary of the TUC sated that the coming on board of UNIWA will dispel the notion that TUC is only workers in the formal sector.
“All along TUC was seen as union for formal workers, today is the beginning of another era where we want all Ghanaians to see TUC is not for workers in the formal sector alone”. He explained.
Dr. Baah was optimistic both UNIWA and TUC will derive immense benefits from this union. “When UNIWA brings all informal workers to TUC we stand to gain and they stand to gain” he opined.
He further stated that “all workers will now have one voice” to push for “their collective interest”.
Mindful of the fact that the informal economy constitutes about 85% of the nation’s economy, the deputy General Secretary did not mince words in saying that they will not only protect the interest of UNIWA, they will count on their numbers in terms of protest and strikes.
“Strike is one of our strategies, in order to have a very successful strike, you need a high trade union density, and if you take the formal sector workers they constitute a small percentage of the workforce, you have about 10 million strong workers in the informal sector, so if you claim that you represent workers without the informal sector then you are under representing them, we now want to being all of them together so when it comes for action you can count on the numbers”.
For her part, Deborah freeman the general secretary of UNIWA proclaimed that they will do all they can to protect the interest of informal sector workers since all forces in the country “have conspired to impoverish them”.
She maintains their main preoccupation as leadership of the Union will be to ensure that informal workers have social security, credit facilities and also make sure they are exploited in the performance of their work.
“Majority of informal workers in this country is poor, they have no credit, social security and they are exposed, so we have to build their capacity, help them to get to access to credit to expand their businesses,” she explained.
By: Raymond Acquah/citifmonline.com/Ghana