A house divided against itself cannot stand, so admonishes the Good Old Book.
Organizsed labour in Ghana, many of whose leaders are Christians, cannot, therefore, be expected to be unaware of the bane that disunity constitutes to their front in the fight for labour welfare.
Reacting to the 10-day ultimatum that the Trades Union Congress gave the government asking it to slash the new killer water and electricity rates by two-thirds or face strikes, the Ghana Federation of Labour has criticised the TUC's threatened action as being hypocritical.
GFL General Secretary Abraham Koomson said as TUC representatives were part of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission which approved the 52 percent and 78.9 percent increment for Ghana Water and ECG respectively, his TUC counterpart, Kofi Asamoah, has no business issuing ultimatums for a strike action.
The GFL thinks the best approach to the issue of astronomic lump sum hikes in utility rates was dialogue, which the Association of Ghana Industries, which is also on the PURC Board, had already initiated with the relevant stakeholders.
The TUC's membership comprises mainly civil and public servants, while the GFL's base is among factory workers. The fear of GFL is that any strike action on top of the burden industries currently face from the utility hikes and the general economic situation, could bankrupt its employers and make them unable to take back its members after the strike.
The GFL's other beef against the TUC is that it has become uncommunicative and unco-operative, allegedly sidelining the other component unions. It is alleged that while the other unions were looking forward to a meeting for Labour to nominate someone to the Presidency for appointment as Chairperson of the National Labour Commission, the TUC unilaterally submitted a name for confirmation.
The Chronicle is shocked by the abrasiveness of the ongoing labour to labour dialogue. It is inevitable that, like the teeth and the tongue, there would be occasional spats, but they should not leave wounds which make future co-operation impossible.
The GFL would do well to note that the fact that the TUC is on the Board of the PURC does not necessarily mean that it supported a one-stop hike. From reports, the TUC prefers time-lined increases over a specified period of time.
If the reports are true, it would imply that the TUC representative may have been out-voted by the other members of the board, who wanted a killer hike.
And that is where the breakdown in communication between the TUC and its affiliates becomes worrisome. If, indeed, its preferred segmented increments were rejected in a vote, it ought to have informed the other unions of the situation, and put them on notice.
That single stitch in time would have saved the current rancorous brickbats.
The Chronicle, therefore, calls for an immediate ceasefire, for labour, ultimately, is the saviour of the masses. Maybe the peculiar self-interest of GFL members and their employers make unanimity on the way forward on the utility hikes impossible for now. But it should not always be so.
Kofi Asamoah, Abraham Koomson and the other general secretaries should schedule a meeting today, share a bottle, and put the past behind them and strategise for the future.
It is important the government does not get any impression that organised labour may have been caged somewhat. That would be the blackest day in the history of Ghana.