Workers deserve safety from employers

Statistics provided by the National Labour Commission (NLC) suggest that the number of labour disputes in the country is falling.

The NLC says, for instance, that it received 543 complaints in 2020, whereas it has recorded 360 petitions from January to September this year, explaining that the trend shows there will be no significant increase in the figures this year.

The assertion is based on the fact that over the years, the trend showed increase but current situation shows a falling trend.

The NLC says the complaints came from both employees and employers, with those of employees, at 95 percent, far outstretching those of employers.

Employees’ complaints centred on unfair termination of appointment, retirement/end-of-service benefits, unpaid salaries, workmen’s compensation, medical and redundancy packages, condition of service, issues of migration onto the single spine structure and failure of negotiation.

However, employers’ complaints involved absenteeism and failure of employees to give notice before resigning from their workplaces.

A look at the employees’ complaints clearly shows that they are suffering at the hands of employers.

In some cases, the human and other rights of employees are violated by employers, particularly in the case of factory hands and restaurant and shop attendants.

For instance, it will be recalled that the police in March 2017, charged the supervisor at the Marwako Restaurant in Accra, Jihad Chaaban, with assault by rubbing the face of a worker in hot pepper.

The victim, Evelyn Boakye, whose face was allegedly rubbed in the blended pepper for more than 10 minutes while Chaaban squeezed her neck and yelled insults at her, had to cry for help as she pleaded with Chaaban to let her go.

Unfortunately, shop-floor workers in Ghana are abused, mostly by expatriate employers such as Chaaban, a Labanese, and in most cases, the abusers go scot-free because of a certain fear of the workers, a situation that paints a picture of neo-slavery.

The truth is that because of limited job opportunities in the country, employers take undue advantage of shop-floor workers and abuse them in any way possible.

Like in the Marwarko case where three other employees who were present as their colleague was being maltreated looked on helplessly due to threats from the supervisor to dismiss anyone who dare to come to the aid of their victimized colleague, workers elsewhere are gagged.

The Marwarko case is a classic example of what shop-floor workers are enduring at the hands of their private-sector employers, both foreigners and some Ghanaians.

It is good to learn that NLC’s work-related education has helped to reduce labour disputes.

The truth is that workers cannot report everything to the NLC for fear of dismissal so it should endeavour to extend the education to employers and do so intensively and also apply the law work strictly to protect workers’ rights.

All the issues raised by workers as recorded by the NLC are matters of serious concern, so as the NLC has requested, the government should make the Commissioners full-time officers for them to settle labour disputes without delay as justice delayed, they say, is justice denied.

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