Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TUC To Protect Domestic Workers

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday November 16, 2010.
The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has initiated a series of advocacy programmes to formulate rules and regulations that would promote decent work and protect domestic workers in the country.

Data compiled under the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) in 2005 show that domestic workers in the country are the least paid and mostly work under inhuman conditions.

The TUC, together with Global Network Africa, say the time has come for the rights of domestic workers to be respected.

At a workshop in Accra yesterday on ‘Social protection for domestic workers,’ participants from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), National Labour Commission (NLC), Ghana Employers association (GEA), Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and TUC officials discussed pertinent issues affecting domestic workers.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Decent work deficit in the informal sector’, Clara Osei-Boateng, a researcher at the Labour Institute in Accra said certain provisions in the current labour laws made it impossible for domestic workers to enjoy the same rights as all other workers, describing the situation as “pure discrimination.”

She said research conducted on domestic work shows that public recruitment centres do not always ensure the enforcement of labour laws whenever people approach them for domestic workers, explaining that private recruitment agencies mostly adhere to the rules, saying “there is laxity in the public recruitment centres.”

Ms. Osei-Boateng also said that expatriates who approach recruitment centres for domestic workers tend to comply with the rules more than non-expatriates and added that most domestic workers prefer to work for expatriates.

She said the problem has come about because domestic workers do not realise that they have rights under the labour laws, saying “most of them have not even heard about the labour laws, let alone know where to seek redress.”

She said organized labour is seeking for a law that would protect both the domestic worker and the employer, adding that “there should be a situation where an employer can locate and seek redress against a domestic worker who goes against the rules.”

Togbe Adu Drayi II of TUC said the issue of domestic workers should be addressed, taking into consideration the socio-cultural settings of the people.

He said poor socio-economic circumstances are fuelling the situation where by people take up appointments as domestic workers saying “the right of domestic workers has become a major concern for the TUC and its needs serious attention.”

He noted that domestic workers render important services but their contributions to the economy are not recognized, explaining that the lack of protection for them was due to the kind of contracts they enter into with their employers.

Togbe Drayi called on government to partner the organized labour to develop standards that would regulate activities of domestic workers, saying we should have a comprehensive framework for domestic workers to be safe.

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