Business News of 2014-02-19

Between 50 and 90% of Ghanaian workers in informal sector

Forty per cent, and growing, is the percentage of workers in the informal sector globally, but in Africa, the rate is between 50 and 90 per cent.

Ghana has about 85 per cent of its workers in the informal sector.

This figure is the cause of a global slump in national economies and a constraint to the rights and well-being of workers.

Workers hardest hit

Workers are also bearing the brunt of failing economies globally, as they are the first to face retrenchment, salary cuts and the clawing back of their rights at workplaces.

To address the situation, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Ms Sharan Burrow, has paid a visit to the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) to engage, chart common causes of action and collaborate with leaders and steering committee members of the TUC.

She also came to garner support for the upcoming ITUC quadrennial conference from May 19 to 23, 2014.

Mobilise and organise

Addressing TUC leaders, Mrs Burrow said mobilising and organising members along common causes were critical functions of trade unions that were in need now more than ever.

She said unions had to go back to the basics and mobilise to ensure their growth to halt the erosion of their rights and significance at workplaces.

She said from her deliberations so far with various constituents, three strategic objectives stood out as key issues for the global labour movement — secure jobs and sustainable incomes, social protection and the realisation of workers' rights.

Those strategic objectives were underpinned by the organising mandate of unions, she said.

ITUC

Ms Burrow said the ITUC was always prepared to support local initiatives.

She emphasised that initiatives that would ensure that unions strengthened their capacities in training and other ancillary activities that made them better at mobilising and organising themselves as a force for change in societies and the global economy were what would be supported.

Mobilising in statutory barred enclaves

During contributions by members of the steering committee, some, such as Mr Abu Kuntulow of the Health Services Workers Union (HSWU), wanted to know how unions could mobilise workers in certain sectors such as the Free Zones Enclave in Ghana.

Others, such as Dr Yaw Baah, the Deputy Secretary-General of the TUC, were enthused by Ms Burrow's initiative in travelling through the sub-region to share experiences.

Dr Baah said the issues of women, the youth and other marginalised groups had to be put on the front burner, even as actions were taken in mobilising workers, particularly those in the informal sector, for better benefits for societies.

Campaign on slave work

In her response, Mrs Burrow assured all that mobilising vulnerable groups was also part of the agenda.

For instance, she said, action had started in mobilising the about 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar, describing the situation as a "modern-day slave state".

To that, Dr Baah expressed appreciation and said a sizeable number of the migrant population would be Ghanaians.

Mrs Burrow said her vision of her tenure included a strong campaign in mobilising all groups of the workforce, the youth to ensure that they were furnished with the skills to take up the work, and women to ensure their inclusiveness.

Back to basics

The Secretary-General of the GTUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, conceded that unions had to go back to the basics in organising and mobilising their members.

He also acknowledged the fact that the youth ought to be trained well to take up the mantle of leadership.

He promised Ghana's full cooperation and participation in the conference and presented Mrs Burrow with a portrait of herself on behalf of the TUC.

Source: graphic.com
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