The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) was formed on February 9, 1959 at West African Cocoa Research Institute, (WACRI) now Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) at New Tafo in the Eastern Region, following a merger of a number of House Unions. These House Unions were the Agricultural Division workers’ Union, Animal Health Workers’ Union, Forestry Division Employees’ Union and the Produce Inspection Employees’ Unions.
The GAWU is non-partisan and hence not affiliated to any political party in Ghana. Leadership at GAWU is through democratic election held every four years at the National Congress.Two of the National Officers (the General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary) are full time officers.
The first General Secretary was Brother R.O. Effah; other founding members included TawiahYomoson, T.K. Amanier, J.Y. Tei, S.K Agyapong, KwekuHalligah, E. O Amoah, H. Danzerl, B.A Bentum and A.M Issifu, to mention but a few. The last four rose to the position of General Secretary in GAWU; Bentum and Issifu rose to occupy the office of the Secretary-General of the Ghana TUC at various points in the history of the congress; and Brother E. O Amoah rose to become Chairperson of the Ghana TUC.
Formed to defend the interests of workers in the agricultural sector, the Union has since 1979 been organizing small holder farmers and other non-wage rural workers into the Union and currently working in over 200 communities in all ten regions of Ghana. In relation to the wage earners GAWU has been:
- negotiating conditions of work and employment
- engaging in socio-economic and agricultural policy campaign and advocacy
- Training and education
- Special services like consumer co-operatives and credit unions
- Pressure group activity to back legitimate demands of workers
Since the formation of GAWU in 1959, the Union has undergone a lot of transformation and changes in both its policy direction and operations.In Ghana the Union plays a key role in the formulation of agricultural policies and programmes with the aim of tailoring them to the needs of its members. The Union has also being very influential in the ratification of key ILO Conventions such as Convention 184.