The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress, TUC, Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah has called for a collaborative effort of the tripartite committee to review the country’s labour laws to ensure that workers are more protected.
Advancing his argument to the media at a Trade Union Leadership Forum in Accra, Dr. Yaw Baah said, ” our labour laws are not protecting the workers of Ghana adequately as we expect, because in the previous labour laws, the Industrial Relations Act, we did not have labour brokers; these agencies who are hiring security men, agents and others, so that if you are working for a bank, you are not an employee of the bank, but an employee of a certain company which is bringing you to the bank. These are usually casuals, and the law is not protecting them enough.”
He added that, ” the laws allow that an employer gives you a contract for six months. Now what happens is that, the day before that contract ends, he gives you another contract for another six months. So they can give you casual contracts for years. There people working in the Maritime sector and other sectors, some who have been casuals for ten years.”
Citing a few more examples of the growing trend of casualisation and informalisation of work across various sectors of the economy, Dr. Yaw Baah said the status of some mine workers which changed from permanent contracts to casual or temporary contracts was completely unacceptable yet nothing was done about it.
“People have worked for ten years, and they were expecting to work for sometime, and then suddenly their contracts ended. And now we know many workers depend on loans, and because you have a job, you go to the bank to give you a loan which will cover say five years or two years. Then they terminate your appointment and you have so much debt hanging on your neck,” he bemoaned.
He said a similar fate befell the workers of the collapsed banks who owed so much in loans taken for various projects and activities.
According to Dr. Baah, the conditions of bank workers which is protected by the Banking Act of 2016 is such that the workers are listed as the fifth in order of priority in terms of stakeholders, which meant that in the event of a collapse or dissolution, any severance arrangement for the worker would be catered for only after all depositors and other key shareholders have been sorted.
” This is wrong!” He exclaimed, “because stakeholders, shareholders and the rest of them, they can pull off their resources immediately if they don’t like you. Workers cannot just pull like that. And these are workers who have worked for some of these banks for years, and they are an important stakeholder. So what we need to do is to change the law to reflect the importance of workers in enterprises.”
Dr. Yaw Baah lamented that the growing era of casualisation and informalisation in the labour market is the making of the existing laws which favor the interest of employers both local and foreign to the detriment of workers.
The Secretary-General of the TUC therefore called on government to consider the plight of workers and collaborate to change the existing labour laws, including the pensions act.
On the issue of the minimum wage, Dr. Yaw Baah emphasised that there must be a more accommodating definition of the framework to give Ghanaians a Living wage which will expand the scope of the minimum wage beyond just the individual worker, so as to include all the fundamentals of living as well as a spouse and at least two children of the worker.
Story by: Nana Agyeman-Prempeh