A last minute intervention by the Ministry of Trade and Industry last Wednesday prevented members of the Textiles, Garment, and Leather Employees Union (TGLEU) from staging its intended demonstration to back its demand for an anti-piracy task force.
The group had served notice to carry out a demonstration to put pressure on the government to reactivate the Task Force on the seizure and destruction of pirated Ghanaian textile designs.
However, a letter from the ministry dated July 11, 2017, and signed by its Chief Director, Mr Dawarnoba Baeka, called on the industry players to exercise restraint because the ministry had resolved to re-institute the task force.
The letter, a copy of which is available to the Daily Graphic, stated, among other things, that “the new task force will help curb the menace of illegal importation of pirated Ghanaian textiles and also ensure that importers who engage in these nefarious activities are arrested and prosecuted.”
The letter, which was copied to key stakeholders, including local textile companies, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) and the security services, urged the stakeholders to present their representatives to the task force by July 21, 2017.
Confirming the decision to the Daily Graphic, Mr Baeka said: “I can confirm that the letter is from the ministry. The sector minister, Mr John Alan Kyerematen, met with the industry players last Tuesday and they agreed to some terms.”
Meanwhile, the General Secretary of TGLEU, Mr Abraham Koomson, said the industry players could not trust the ministry because previous promises had not been kept.
“We are not happy because this is the third time the ministry has toed this line. I know that it is a deliberate strategy to frustrate and disorganise our union. However, we are complying with the request to submit nominees for the task force,” he added.
He also urged the stakeholders to expedite action in getting their nominees for the task force to be established as soon as possible to save the textile industry from total collapse.
The ministry set up the task force in 2010 to clamp down on criminal elements who had invaded the local textile industry with pirated designs, logos and other materials.
The task force, made up of personnel of the National Security, the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Trade and Industry Ministry, GUTA and other stakeholders, was given the mandate to curb the menace of illegal importation of pirated Ghanaian textiles pints.
In line with this, the task force, as of the end of January 2015, had carried out six exercises that led to the seizure and destruction of 9,000 pieces of pirated Ghanaian textile designs.
However, since the change in government this year, the operations of the task force had stalled, giving an opportunity to the importers to relaunch their deed.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic ahead of the celebration of the 2017 edition of Workers Day on May 1, Mr Koomson bemoaned the devastating footprints piracy had left in the textile industry.
Credit: Graphic Online