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Rise in casual workers–Trade Unions bemoan trend

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Adnan Adams Mohammed

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) have bemoaned the increasing change in the status of Ghanaian workers in the private sector from permanent staff to contract or casual workers and the attendant treatment of the casual workers by their employers.

The unions are worried that, such situations infringe on the country’s labour laws, and hence must be stopped.

According to the TUC, companies in the extractive industry, banking industry and the construction industry have resort to engaging and re-engaging their workers on contract or casual staff terms.

This, the TUC describes as unacceptable since contract working limits the benefits and rights of workers under the labour laws of the country.

The Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah who was speaking ahead of the May Day celebration told Citi Business News there must be a new policy that will protect workers from being forced from permanent workers to contract or casual workers.

“We see it in many sectors. We see it in the maritime sector, the mines, and in the banking sector, the situation is bad. They are all outsourcing their employees. They engage them as casual workers. We need to deal with it. I think our labour law should be effective to protect the Ghanaian worker,” he stressed.

Also, the General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) Solomon Kotei lamented over the activities of recruitment agencies and outsourcing companies who are using their operations to cheat workers.

According to him, the activities of these agencies usually plunge job seekers into trouble as most of them get poor salaries, no SSNIT or medical benefits and job insecurity.

Speaking to Accra based radio, he said because of unemployment, workers who are undergoing poor conditions have remained mute and the ICU has demanded for change through petitions and proposals.

The law in Ghana he explained mandates the agencies to search for workers for a prospective company, take their commission from the companies but ‘’what we see today is that these agencies rather receive the salaries of the workers and give them what they want.’’ He has therefore challenged the Labour Commission to conduct serious audit so the agencies violating the laws can be punished.

On 1st October 2011 UK’s Government introduced the Agency Workers Regulations which gives agency workers the right to equal treatment with permanent staff working at the same organisation. But Ghanaian employers treat agency staff totally different from permanent staff, he opined.

He said: ‘’several contract workers in Ghana are paid in the margin of 500-800 GHS a month, doing the same job with permanent staff receiving about three times this amount.’’

Dr Yaw Baah further argued that, under contract work, some Ghanaian employers deny their employees basic benefits such as salary increment, contribution to provident fund, and even payment of Social Security even though they are obliged to do so.

He pointed out that, most contract workers are given a short period for working after which the terms of engagement are not reviewed as their employers still deem them as contract workers.

Most of them, according to him, work for years with no benefit due to their companies categorizing them as contract workers.

Dr Baah stated that there is the need to change some of the policies to protect such workers.

On her part, the Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Grace Bediako was optimistic government’s job agenda may force a change in the development.

She maintained that the act of forcing permanent workers to assume contract staff status could be informalizing the economy, hence the legal regime must be checked to protect workers.

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