The Construction and Building Materials Workers’ Union of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, has appealed to Government to intervene in the sector to protect jobs and salaries of employees.
It said with the country currently battling the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in some job losses, employers are likely to relieve workers of their jobs without pay, saying such act could be detrimental to workers if the government failed to intervene.
The Union sees the termination of appointments without the means to survive as unfair, immorally wrong and subversive of the efforts of Government, adding that “starvation to death may be more dangerous than the pandemic”.
A statement signed by the General Secretary of the Union, Pius Quainoo appealed to the Government to prevail on employers who have taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to send workers home without pay to rescind their decision and keep the workers on a pay as the largest single employer, Government, has done for civil and public servants.
The Union marked its International Workers Memorial Day, which falls on April 28 each year. This year’s event was marked by mourning workers who suffered workplace accidents, got injured or died from them.
The Union therefore used the Day to sensitize and create the necessary awareness for workers to learn about safety and health measures to avoid preventable accidents at work.
It said each year, more than 100,000 construction workers die from preventable ‘accidents’ on work-sites.
It described the coronavirus period as abnormal times which trigger the figure higher as the pandemic ravages even more developed economies.
It said the situation was very scary for countries like Ghana where the people are all potential victims.
“As groups and as individuals, we have a lot to do to break the cycle of infection. We all need to subject ourselves to the self-discipline that is required to keep all of us safer,” it said.
“We are grateful that the borders have been closed and that all measures are being put in place to contain the horizontal or community spread of Covid-19.”
“The Construction and Building Material Workers’ Union calls on all construction employers and employees not to compromise with health and safety standards and observe the preventive measures put forward by Government such as social distancing, frequent washing of hands (with soap under running water), using alcohol-based hand sanitizers and avoiding mass gathering.”
It said these should be in addition to supply and use relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing and other requirements.
The statement urged Government to deal with the negative consequences of sub-contracting or outsourcing which undermines workers’ right, reduce them to penury and pushes them to more vulnerability.
“To be fair to employers, the Government should roll out a stimulus package for contractors who have kept faith with the workers, and worked even during the abnormal time which resulted in the partial lockdown,” it said.
The Union congratulated all employers and construction workers who risk their lives working to prevent the collapse of the economy of Ghana.
“The Construction Union urges all Ghanaians to work closely together to get rid of Covid-19. We can all prevail together,” it added.