A 10-point safety guideline for the fight against the coronavirus at workplaces, has been issued by the National Tripartite Committee (NTC), comprising government, employers and organised labour.
It includes an appeal to employers to dialogue with their employees, instead of taking unilateral decisions on pay cuts, layoffs and other work related measures as a result of the COVID-19 impact.
“Employers and unions should collaborate and cooperate at the enterprise level through social dialogue to deal with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the sustainability of their respective enterprise,” a communique, containing the guidelines, issued in Accra yesterday said.
It was signed by Chairman of the committee and Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah; President of the Ghana Employers’ Association, Daniel Acheampong and Secretary General of Trades Union Congress(Ghana), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah.
The tripartite partners agreed on the guidelines at an emergency meeting on Tuesday April 21, 2020.
Addressing the media at the signing ceremony, Dr Awuah underscored the need for social dialogue, explaining that althoughthe committee acknowledged that the repercussion of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions called for the restructuring of business operations, imposing certain decisions on workers was not the best way to handle the situation.
He said in the absence of a formalised way to deal with the lay-offs and other issues, both sides should not take entrenched positions because “[they] need each other for survival”.
Since the outbreak of the virus in Ghana and resultant restrictions, there have been reports of layoffs and slashing of salaries by employers in the private sector with the excuse that they cannot pay salaries due to the impact of the virus.
Asked about stimulus packages to support businesses to parry the effect of the virus and pay remuneration, he said the committee was yet to engage the government and make proposals to that effect.
Other aspects of the guidelines are that all employers should provide the requisite Personal Protective Equipment and related facilities for workers in compliance with World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health protocols.
Employers are to constitute safety committees to deal with all COVID-19 issues, appoint focal persons to facilitate education, create an enabling environment for social distancing, while various labour unions should monitor compliance to safety protocols.
“The government policy on wearing of facemask at all public places must be strictly enforced by all relevant authorities,” the communique said.
Commenting on the guidelines, Dr Baah, the TUC Secretary General admonished all employers and employees to comply with the guidelines so they do not endanger the lives of their families.
On his part, Mr Acheampong said efforts were being made to collate the number of employers affected by various measures adopted by employers to guide further mitigating measures.
He commended the government for interventions put in place to contain the virus and likewise frontline workers for their dedication to duty.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR