January 7, 1950: The Trade Union Congress (TUC) call a general strike

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) which is the umbrella body of trade unions in Ghana was formally inaugurated in 1945 and was known as the Gold Coast Trade Union Congress (GCTUC). Its operations started in the offices of the Workers Union (RWU -known as ‘Loco’) at Sekondi. The numerical strength of the union was 6,030 at the time of inauguration. The President and the Secretary of the union were C. W. Techie-Menson and Manfred Gaisie respectively.

The GCTUC had considerable influence and legitimacy among Ghanaians, most especially the working population. On 11th May, 1948, the Executive Board warned of an organized protest for the release of political leaders of UGCC. These leaders popularly referred to as the Big Six in Ghana’s political history were Akuffo-Addo, Kwame Nkrumah, Ako Adjei, J. B. Danquah, William Ofori-Atta and Obetsebi-Lamptey. On 18th March, the government invited the Executive Board of the TUC led by Mr. Frank Wood to the Castle. Subsequently, the Watson Commission was set up to look into the matter. Upon the recommendation of the Commission, the leaders were released on 11th April, 1948. Consequently, provisions were made by the government to include GCTUC representatives in “the planning and execution of public works.” Furthermore, as noted earlier, GCTUC as a gesture of solidarity embarked on a general strike on 7th January, 1950 to support the Meteorological Department Workers Union who had been dismissed for embarking on a strike. However, on 8th January, 1950, the CPP also declared “Positive Action.” The strike which lasted for about 13 days was “very effective only for about three days, when transportation was paralyzed, shops and markets were closed and the streets were deserted.” Government declared a state of emergency and imposed a dusk to dawn curfew on the big towns. When an announcement was made on the Broadcasting Station of the Gold Coast, Radio ZOY, that, people were being recruited into the civil service, some of the striking workers started reporting to work. As a result, the general strike was quelled.

The colonial authorities until 1950 had succeeded in preventing trade unions from aligning themselves with the nationalist movements. The labor unions that existed at the time were largely unsuccessful as collective bargaining agents. There existed several trade unions with limited memberships. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) formed a friendship with the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) through close working relationship. This alliance which ensured the prosperity of the TUC, however, became costly to the union with the change in government.