EMPLOYMENT MINISTER TOURS INDUSTRIES IN WESTERN REGION

EMPLOYMENT MINISTER TOURS INDUSTRIES IN WESTERN REGION

EMPLOYMENT MINISTER TOURS INDUSTRIES IN WESTERN REGION
As part of efforts to ensure that Corporate Institutions comply with the Labour Act 2003 (Acts 651), the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah (MP) has undertaken a four day industrial relations visit to some selected companies in the Western Region of Ghana.
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.
According to the Hon. Minister, the objective of the visit was to familiarize and acquaint himself with the labour practices at the enterprise level by Human Resource Managers on the field and also to interact with Management of industries, as well as Labour Unions and workers. It was also to promote social dialogue, rights of workers, social partnership among Government, Employers and Organised Labour for harmonious labour relations in the country.
Among the core issues that were discussed during the visit were the condition of workers in term of health and safety, types of contract, pension related matters, remuneration and gender mainstreaming.
In respect of performance, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah was impressed with the health and safety measures practiced by most of the companies visited, adding that safety precaution should be an integral component of operations for workers and visitors. As part of their practices, Management indicated that workers were taken through the company’s health and safety procedures on regular and routine basis.
The Minister observed that most of the companies in Western Region were practicing a type of contract engagement known as ‘fixed term contract’. This type of contract ranges between two (2) weeks and two (2) years in some of the companies which is subject to renewal upon expiration. The Minister stated that the prevalence of fixed term contract has made it impossible for most workers in some start-up companies such as Wangkang Ceramics Company, KEDA (Twyford) Ceramics Company, as well as some existing companies such as Ghana Rubber Estates Limited and Ghana Bauxite Company to be unionized. This was of a great concern to the Minister, such that he noted there was the need for the National Tripartite Committee to review and dialogue with Employers on the issue of fixed term contract to ensure job security and to avoid situation whereby workers welfare and wellbeing are not improved during and after their working lives. This was underscored by the fact that job sustainability for the worker is a cardinal requirement for ensuring that the country meets the decent work agenda requirements by International Labour Organization.
He added that the right of the workers to form unions and access to information through improved social dialogue and engagement of the workplace was a priority to the Ministry. Consequently, the Hon. Minister bemoaned that the fixed term contract does not give room for job security and formation of union and must be regulated to ensure job security and sustainability. “My responsibility as the Employment Minister is to protect the right of a worker so I will not sit down and watch if workers are not allowed to unionize” he stated.
The Minister commended Management of the various companies for paying workers above the National Daily Minimum Wage in addition to other benefits such as free accommodation, overtime payment, health insurance etc. He however revealed that the salary range for fixed term contract workers which is between GH¢400.00 and GH¢700.00 was woefully inadequate and implored Management of such companies to ensure that workers’ salaries and conditions of service are improved through the engagement of workers and their representatives
to ensure a harmonious labour relations environment.
On the issues of Gender Mainstreaming, Mr. Baffour Awuah noted that Management of the companies were mostly male dominated. He therefore advised them to improve upon the recruitment and selective method to ensure that females are given opportunities and support in some of these areas that are dominated by males.
The Minister described the visit as am eye opening experience for him and his Ministry. He admonished Employers to operate within the remits of the laws of Ghana especially the Labour Acts, 2003 (Act 651).

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