Commemoration WDDW 2014
Ghana (West Africa)
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation on Tuesday held a forum to commemorate this year’s World Day for Decent Work, which draws attention to the need for total respect for the basic rights of all workers.
The event, which had been celebrated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) since 2008, was introduced and initially promoted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1999.
The years’ celebrations is on the theme: “Justice for Workers-Climate Justice”, which raises concerns about the numerous challenges facing workers in their pursuit of decent jobs, and the current effect of climate change on employment and socio-economic development, particularly in developing countries.
The occasion therefore mobilises all unions from across the world to call in unison for social justice and decent jobs for all and advocate for attitudinal change towards environmental issues to mitigate the effect of climate change on humanity.
Mr Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress said decent work has been defined by the ILO and endorsed by the international community as being productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
He said it also involved opportunities for work that was productive and delivers a fair income, provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families, offers better prospects for personal development and encourages social integration, gives people freedom to express their concerns to organise and to participate in decisions that affect their lives and guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all.
However the world was currently on an unsustainable path, with vast numbers of people facing challenges such as job insecurity, high levels of inequalities in terms of wages, as people were contracted as casual workers for lengthy periods without fair wages or conditions of service among other things.
Mr Asamoah said the basic rights to union representation and collective bargaining were currently under threat in many countries and also under direct attack in others, while some employers were even trying to undermine the right to strike, by challenging decades of legal recognition for this most fundamental right at the ILO.
According to him about a half of working families had experienced unemployment or reduced working hours in the past two years, while a lot more were living in extreme poverty, especially in developing countries.
Although Ghana had several labour laws protecting the rights of workers, these were not fully respected by most employers, and this had affected efforts towards poverty reduction, and was also affecting the family system where young people were expected to take care of the aged, he said.
He called on policy makers to place high premium on job creation by prioritising activities that would create the opportunity to expand the employment sector to absorb more people, adding that, the expected growth of the private sector, which had been perceived as the engine of growth had been slow.
Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union, on the issue of decent work and climate justice, said with governments still unwilling or unable to tame the dominance of global finance and multinationals over peoples’ lives, the only way to get the economy back on track and serving the interests of the many rather than the few, was by building workers’ power.
Linking the issue to climate justice, he said the catastrophic weather events caused by climate change were already ruining lives and livelihoods, yet political leaders were yet to find the courage to make a global climate agreement.
He said currently, dominant global economic models were destroying jobs and the planet through heavy industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and that, since there was no jobs on a dead planet, governments must act quickly to reduce carbon pollution and equip communities and industries with adaptation measures to mitigate the harsh impact of climate change.
Although developing countries including Ghana contributes only about seven per cent of greenhouse gas emissions it has felt the climate change impact, therefore the need to levy highly industrial countries to fix the damages caused by their actions.
He also called for intensified advocacy for decent work because many governments had failed to protect working people and were failing to build a sustainable future for the generations to come.
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