The Public Affairs Officer at Accra (Sawyer) to the Department of State

No. 176


  • Consulate’s Despatches Number 166 of March 5, 1954;1 Number 160 of February 24, 1954;2 Number 115 of December 14, 1953;3 Number 69 of November 7, 1953;4 Number 41 of September 15, 1953;5 and Number 24 of August 12, 1953.6


  • Recent Developments in USIS Labor Contract Program

In no area of activity has there arisen greater danger to the stability of the emerging political independence of the Gold Coast than in the [Page 291] organized labor movement. Though nurtured and guided by the Gold Coast Government’s Labour Department, the movement, especially during the past year, provided fertile ground for Communist activity, designed to disrupt the otherwise orderly progress toward self-government.

A major step in the right direction occurred on Sunday, February 28, during a meeting of the General Council of the Gold Coast Trade Union Congress. This meeting came as a climax to months of effort by the United States Information Service in Accra, the representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and those friends whom they were able to win to their side in both the Trade Union movement and the Convention Peoples’ Party.

The struggle began last August, when in a resolution couched in Communist jargon, the Annual Conference of the Trade Union Congress voiced their decision to disaffiliate from the ICFTU. From then until October the Gold Coast Trade Union movement seemed to be drifting steadily into the camp of the Communist dominated World Federation of Trade Unions. (Full details of these developments and subsequent events were reported in the Consulate’s despatches under reference.) The tide began to turn in October, when following the Prime Minister’s historic policy statement on Communism (delivered at the urging of the Information Officer), and the suspension from the CPP of Anthony Woode and Turkson-Ocran, the principal Communist inspired labor leaders, the leaders of the Trade Union Congress were persuaded to take a more friendly view toward the ICFTU. By careful nurturing, by both the ICFTU representative and USIS, this relationship improved steadily. Today the Gold Coast TUC uses the ICFTU’s West African Trade Union Information Center virtually as its headquarters, and both organizations use USIS films, pamphlets, and lectures in their worker education programs.

The Prime Minister’s speech on Communists in Government Service (reported in the Consulate’s Despatch Number 161 of February 26, 1954)7 delivered in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly on February 25, set the stage for the TUC meeting of the 28th. The agenda and the tactics to be employed at the meeting were carefully planned with the assistance and suggestions of the ICFTU representative.

The meeting was a stormy one, lasting from nine in the morning until six-thirty in the evening. It was evident that the WFTU crowd had also planned well. The TUC President, Mr. Francis Tachie-Menson, delivered a speech, the text of which was enclosed in the Consulate’s [Page 292] Despatch Number 166 of March 5, 1954.8 The Vice-President, Mr. Isaac K. Kumah, moved the resolution, which read as follows:

“Following the statement of the President on the relationship of Gold Coast TUC to international organizations, and in the light of the fact that the Gold Coast TUC believes in democratic trade unionism; this second meeting of the General Council denounces Communism and all its works and, hereby, resolves to rescind the resolution passed at the 10th Annual Conference and to reaffiliate to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.”

The evening of February 28th, the officers of the TUC and their sympathizers on the General Council had supper with the ICFTU representative and the USIS Information Officer and pledged themselves to continue the fight against the WFTU group, especially in the Takoradi port area,9 where they appear to be strongest.

Other recent USIS activities on the labor front have included a visit to Takoradi by a USIS projection team, who for several nights showed USIS trade union films before large labor audiences. These films were shown following anti-Communist speeches delivered by Mr. Francis Tachie-Menson, President of the Gold Coast Trade Union Congress.

The Information Officer, Robert I. Fleming, has recently completed a series of twelve weekly lectures on American trade union history and organization. The series, which was presented at the YMCA, was sponsored by the Department of Extra-Mural Studies of the University College of the Gold Coast. It was regularly attended by about 30 trade union leaders from the Accra area. USIS films and pamphlets were used to illustrate the lectures.

Just prior to departing for leave on April 11th, Mr. Fleming plans to address the Annual Easter School for Gold Coast trade union leaders, to be held at the University College, Achimota.

The publication of the ICFTU in West Africa, the West African Worker, which is published monthly in 50,000 copies and is distributed throughout West Africa from the Congo to the Gambia, has proven an excellent outlet for straight USIS articles and for those which are USIS inspired.

USIS officers maintain a close personal relationship with Gold Coast Trade Union leaders, entertaining them in their homes, attending and addressing the social gatherings of their unions, and accepting their hospitality from time to time.

The Prime Minister of the Gold Coast, who is a close and good friend of USIS in Accra, has expressed his approval and appreciation of USIS activities with Gold Coast labor, and obviously regards them as a valuable adjunct to his own efforts to maintain stability during the current, difficult transition period.

[Page 293]

A reading of the Consulate’s despatches on the labor situation is suggested for gaining a full picture of the part which USIS has played in the recent important developments in this field.

Eugene D. Sawyer
  1. Not printed; it sketched the background of the reaffiliation of the Gold Coast TUC with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). (845K.062/3–554)
  2. Not printed; it transmitted an estimate of the current situation in the Gold Coast as regards political and trade union matters which had been prepared by Albert Hammerton, the ICFTU representative in West Africa, on Feb. 22, 1954 and a memorandum by Robert I. Fleming, Vice Consul and Information Officer at Accra, dealing with developments in the Gold Coast trade union movement which he submitted to Cole on Dec. 22, 1953. (745K.00/2–2454)
  3. Not printed; it transmitted a further report by Fleming concerning developments affecting the trade union movement in the Gold Coast. (845K.062/12–1453)
  4. Not printed; it transmitted Fleming’s report of Oct. 30, 1953, supra.
  5. Not printed; it transmitted a memorandum regarding the Trade Union Conference at Kumasi. (845K.062/9–1553)
  6. Not printed, see footnote 2, supra.
  7. Not printed; it submitted the text of Nkrumah’s address to the Legislative Assembly in which he indicated that the government would henceforth not employ active Communists in specified departments. (745K.001/2–2654)
  8. Not printed.
  9. Anthony Woode was the head of the maritime workers union in Takoradi.