The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, has encouraged employers to engage their local unions to agree on common ways to manage labour challenges in their mutual interest.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said in the event of downsizing their workforce, it should be done in consultation with the leadership of the unions but management should not take unilateral decisions, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Minister made the call on Thursday when he led a team from the Ministry and its Departments to conduct a random inspection of companies in Accra to probe the compliance to COVID-19 health protocols.
The team visited the Appointed Time Printing Limited, Dignity DTRT Limited and Sixteen 47 Ghana Limited, both apparel manufacturing companies, and Pharmanova Pharmaceutical Company, which have no reported COVID-19 cases.
The Ministry and its social partners, which include Employers and Organized Labour, in June, issued a 10- point communiqué, urging employers and workers, in general, to continue to observe the necessary protocols and guidelines in order to keep workers safe.
Among the points were the strict adherence to physical distancing during meetings, existence of an isolation room for persons who develop COVID-19 symptoms at the workplace while awaiting transfer to an appropriate health facility and also arrangements for disinfection of the workplace.
The Minister stated that, “workers are no way a nuisance to management, but committed to helping in achieving the organization’s goal and no worker is happy receiving a full salary, while not working”.
“Workers want to be identified with the success of their organizations even at difficult times,” he said.
He said the Ministry, through the Department of Labour, had put in place mechanisms to ensure that workers were not punished for testing positive to COVID-19.
“If somebody has an infection in a company, the person’s absence should not be deducted from the normal working days or hours with regard to payment of wages or annual leave,” he said.
“We are also advising management of companies, depending on the nature of the work, to reconfigure the working space in such a way that it would allow for enough social distancing and also enable some workers to work from home”.
Touching on the Government’s support to the companies, Mr Baffour-Awuah said the Ministry through its Factory Inspectorate Unit had been providing technical information to these organisations on health and safety at workplaces.
On stigmatization, the Minister commended public officials who were infected with the virus and had openly declared their status to the public, which he explained, had helped to create awareness that “COVID-19 is not a death sentence”.
Consequently, infected persons could be treated and reintegrated into the society to resume their normal work.
He said under no circumstance should anybody be discriminated against because of his COVID-19 status because the virus could affect anybody.