Economics Day Council Trade Unions must ensure decent treatment of Workers - Solomon Kotei

According to Solomon Kotei, the first indicator of precarious work in the country is  earnings, adding that here we look at those who are poorly paid.

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Mr Solomon Kotei, General  Secretary of the  Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), has reminded Trade  Unions that they owed to workers the duty and responsibility  to ensure that labour got decent treatment wherever they were employed.         

Mr Kotei  who gave the reminder at this year’s  observation of   Decent Work Day on Wednesday in Accra, said the essence of this protest  was to bring to bring to the attention of the government, authorities in  charge of labour issues, NGOs, the public, and workers, the injustice  and deprivation being meted out to workers who by no fault of theirs,  had found themselves in indecent employment.

Read more: ‘We’ll use May Day to vent against ‘dumsor’ – Organized labour   

The Day which  falls on October  7 of every year, is  aimed at  reminding Employers to be mindful  of the International Labour  Organization’s concept of ‘Decent Work,’ and make it productive.         

This year’s celebration was   organized by the Industrial  Liaison Council, Ghana (ILCG), whose tripartite membership comprise  the  ICU, the Ghana Mine Workers’ Union (GMWU), and the Ghana Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Union (GTPCWU), on the theme: ‘From  Decent Work to Precarious Work: The Case of the Ghanaian Worker.’         

Mr Kotei, who is also  the Chairman of the ILCG, pointed out  that the gradual and steady conversion of decent  to precarious work,  was becoming more and more worrying to trade union organizations,  academics, and many labour-friendly organizations the world over.         

He said it was regrettable that Ghana’s  laws were silent on  what constituted  decent work, thus opening the floodgates  for this  phenomenon to reach a fever pitch.   

Read more:  ICU workers demonstrate over poor economy

He said the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) concept  of ‘Decent Work Agenda’ comprised four inter-related and mutually  inclusive objectives, namely, creating employment, guaranteeing the  recognition  and respect of international  labour standards, extending  social protection, and promoting  social dialogue.       

Mr Kotei  explained that in line with the ILO’s  concept,  ‘Decent Work’ could be described as work that was productive, gave fair  income, security at the workplace, and social protection for the family,  equal opportunities and treatment, better prospects for personal  employment and social integration,  freedom to organize and participate  in decision-making.        

He was quick to point out,  however,  that the conversion of  decent to precarious work had endangered work and deprived workers of  their rights, like freedom of association and the right to collective  bargaining.         

The ILCG Chairman described precarious workers as those who  filled permanent  job needs,  but were  denied permanent employee  rights.

"Globally these workers are subject to unstable employment,  lower wages and more dangerous working conditions.        

They rarely receive social benefits and are often denied the  right to join a union.        

Even when they have the right to unionize, workers are scared to  organize if they know they are easily replaceable," Mr Kotei  explained.        

He said the first indicator of precarious work in the country is  earnings, adding that here we look at those who are poorly paid.        

This, he said, included those earning the minimum wage and less,  and also those whose earnings were  above the minimum standard, but  below a designated level.        

Mr Kotei said the second and third indicators of precarious work  were the non-wage of compensation given to the worker, and the extent or  degree of regulatory protection afforded to workers.        

Touching on the form and shape of precarious work in the  country, the ICU Secretary General said a lot of employers were using  all kinds of subterfuge , like reorganization, amalgamation, take-overs,  outsourcing to concentrate on core business, among others,  to unjustly  retrench workers.        

“They do this mainly to cut down on operational costs and  maximize profits at the expense of workers.         

They  then, in collusion with some employment agencies, re- recruit the retrenched workers back into the same company as casual,  temporary or contract workers,” he pointed out.         

Mr Kotei said unjustifiably these retrenched workers re- recruited as casuals, temporary or contract workers, “are made to do the  same work, and work for the same number of hours as the so-called  ‘permanent’  workers, but with diminution in salaries/wages and  deprivation of social insurance and protection, among other social  benefits.”         

On the employment of casual and temporary workers, the ILCG  Chairman said evidently, some employers were abusing that privilege to  employ, by giving a ‘permanent’ status  to  their usage in contravention  of the Labour  Act, so much so that some casual and temporary workers  had worked in some organizations  continuously for over 10 years,  without being treated as permanent workers in flagrant violation of the  Act.

Credit: GNA

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