COVID-19: Labour Unions Call for Tripartite Engagement on the Plight of Employees
Three labour unions have called for an immediate multilateral engagement between workers, employers and the government on the plight of workers in the wake of the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus disease.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) are the three unions seeking for tripartite engagement for workers.
Speaking separately in an interview, the leadership of all the three unions agreed that even though businesses are in a dire financial situation any decision on the fate of workers should be taken through a consensus.
According to them, a tripartite engagement between the government, employers and workers would be the best way to proffer solution to the induced economic hardship on businesses.
They also called on the government to make available the stimulus package for businesses early enough to prevent further job losses.
Contributing to the issue, the Director of Research and Policy at the TUC, Mr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, mentioned that employers should desist from any decision to individually decide on the fate of workers during this time.
“Even though we empathize with the employers in this challenging moment, what the TUC is saying is that we need a tripartite action involving employers, employees and the government on the way forward,” he said.
To him, through the tripartite engagement, the government could possibly find some resources to support the employers to aid them to pay the salaries of workers.
Mr. Otoo noted that even though pay cuts could be one of the offers on the table during the tripartite engagement more options need to be considered.
He admonished employers not to disengage their relationship with workers at this critical moment since it could disrupt productivity when the pandemic fades.
The Secretary-General of the ICU, Mr. Solomon Kotei, emphasized that it was wrong for employers to unilaterally lay off workers during these times because such act is inconsistent to the principles of social contract agreed by both parties.
According to him, if tripartite engagement is been held there would be an opportunity for the parties to know the circumstances of the employer; the nature of work and the capacity of the employer to determine if there was the need for down-sizing salaries of workers.
The General Secretary of the GFL, Mr. Abraham Koomson, called on the government immediately step in to save the businesses from collapsing and also prevent job losses.
“What we are saying is that the government has a responsibility to protect businesses and that is why we want action to be expedited on the stimulus package for businesses,” he said.
He acknowledged that dialogue was key in this critical moment and asked the government to intervene to save businesses from this pandemic.
He added that the GFL would present a proposal on the impact of COVID-19 on labour to the government once it finalizes the processes and hope to get prompt action to address the challenges.
COVID-19 impact on Businesses
With another month coming to an end, some employers and employees are concerned about the payment of salaries as the coronavirus hits the economy hard.
Already some hotels and airlines have shut down their businesses because of low patronage. Some businesses are also offering salary cuts to their employees as a result of the financial mishap caused by the pandemic while other businesses have partly shut down some branches of their businesses.
With the lifting of the partial lockdown, businesses look forward to bounce back again and partly mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy.