BY ANIN AGYEI–
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, Accra, Ghana- THE MINISTER of Employment and Labour Relations for Ghana, Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, has implored employers to review the contract and working conditions of fixed term contract workers to improve upon their welfare and ensure job security.
Mr. Baffour-Awauah urged the National Tripartite Committee to dialogue with employers on fixed term contracts of workers to ensure sustainable jobs and compliance with the International Labour Organization’s standards.
He said many fixed term contract workers were paid between GH¢ 400.00 and GH¢ 700 per month with employment duration between two weeks and two years, and thus described the conditions of service and salaries as woefully inadequate and called for urgent steps to review it.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah made the recommendation when he undertook a tour of some selected industries in the Western Region. The tour formed part of efforts to ensure that corporate institutions comply with the Labour Act 2003 (Acts 651).
The Minister was accompanied by officials of the Ministry: the Chief Labour Officer, the Western Regional Labour Officer, Tripartite Coordinator, the Industrial Relations Officer and other labour officers and social partners.
The companies visited were Anglo Gold Ashanti, Tarkwa; Goldfields Ghana Limited, Tarkwa; Ghana Manganese Company, Nsuta; Wangkang Ceramics Company Limited, Takoradi International Company Limited, Ghana Rubber Estates Limited, all in Takoradi.
The team also visited Samartex Timber and Plywood Company Limited and the Ghana Bauxite Company at Samreboi and Awaso respectively.
The visit was also to familiarise and acquaint himself with the labour practices at the enterprise level by Human Resource Managers on the field and to interact with Management of industries, Labour Unions and workers.
It was also to promote social dialogue, rights of workers, social partnership, employers and organised labour for harmonious labour relations in the country.
Among some major issues raised during the visit were the condition of workers, in terms of their health and safety, types of contract, pension related matters, remuneration and gender mainstreaming.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah was impressed with the health and safety measures practised by many of the companies visited, adding that safety precautions should be an integral component of operations for workers and visitors.
Some managements of the companies visited said they took workers through health and safety procedures on regular basis.
The Minister said the prevalence of fixed term contract has made it impossible for many workers in some start-up companies such as Wangkang Ceramics Company, KEDA (Twyford) Ceramics Company, as well as some existing companies like Ghana Rubber Estates Limited and Ghana Bauxite Company to be unionized.
The Minister said it was the right of every worker to form unions and access information through improved social dialogue and engagement of the workplace.
“My responsibility as the Employment Minister is to protect the right of every worker so I will not sit down and watch if workers are not allowed to unionize,” Mr. Baffour-Awuah said.
The Minister commended some managements of the companies visited for paying workers above the National Daily Minimum Wage and other benefits like free accommodation, overtime payment and health insurance.
On the issues of Gender Mainstreaming, Mr .Baffour Awuah noted that most top management of companies were male dominated and, therefore, advised them to improve upon the recruitment and selective method to ensure females are given opportunities and support in male dominated areas.
The Minister described the visit as an eye opening experience for him and his Ministry and admonished employers to operate within the expectations of the labour laws of Ghana, especially the Labour Acts, 2003 (Act 651)
BY ANIN AGYEI, NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS, AFRICA CORRESPONDENT
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