Thursday, October 29

Expedite action on health and safety policy-GAWU

The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) has urged government to expedite action on the National Occupational, Safety and Health (OSH) policy before cabinet to resolve the issues of fragmented legislations. 

The Union said it had been pushing for the adoption of the policy in the country since 2000 as a pre-requisite to complement the effort to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 155.

The ILO Convention 155, when ratified, would among others give workers freedom of association and effective recognition of collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour and effective abolition of child labour.

Mr Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe, Deputy General Secretary, GAWU, made the call on Wednesday at a stakeholders meeting on the ratification of the Convention.

The programme was supported by BUSAC Fund in collaboration with DANIDA, USAID and the European Union.

He said one of the key barriers in ratifying the Convention was the political will, after a broader consultation and engagement of stakeholders early in the policy conception of the draft bill.

He said in 2000, a draft national policy was formulated but the process for its finalization and adaptation had been slow.

LaDou(2003) research show that that only 5 to 10 per cent of workers in the developing countries had access to OHS services.

Globally, current estimates by ILO in 2019 show that 2.78 million people died from work related injuries and disease.

Ghana as a nation, with six decades of existence still had no national OSH policy that applied to all workplaces where any person was engaged permanently or temporarily.

The closest is the Factories, Offices and Shops Act 1970, (Act 328) but with various weaknesses which require huge modification to meet changing times and international requirement standards.

He called on all to support the Union to push government to pass the bill before Parliament to ensure the health and safety of workers.

Mr Suleman Nurudeen, a Research Fellow, said the need for a national policy was necessary because of poor cohesion and collaboration among statutory OSH departments.

However, he said regulations that existed were poorly enforced due to conflicting and overlapping functions of these departments and change of governments.
Mr Nurudeen recommended that the Union should make a conscious effort to build relationships with stakeholders and gain support from a wide range of policy makers.

Mr Eugene Narh Korletey, Chief Labour Officer, said government had put in place institutional arrangements to get the bill passed.

He said government was examining the bill and was optimistic that it would be presented to ILO for discussions and passed it into law to regulate the safety of workers.

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