COVID-19 triggering losses in employment – TUC

Trades Union Congress of Ghana (TUC-Ghana)
Trades Union Congress of Ghana (TUC-Ghana)

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has said the COVID-19 pandemic is triggering losses in employment in the country.

Dr Yaw Baah, TUC, Secretary-General, said an ongoing research by the Labour Research and Policy Institute of TUC, shows the devastating effects of the COVID-19 health crisis on jobs and livelihoods in both the formal and informal segments of the economy.

He cited the example of a company which exports drinks and had lost tons of its raw materials including mangoes, pineapple, pawpaw because it could not export due to border closures around the world.

“All casual and contract workers have been laid off. The company has also stopped all overtime work. As a result, workers’ incomes have reduced drastically. The company is struggling to pay workers, pay social security, pay taxes and repay bank loans,” Dr Baah stated on Friday, in his virtual address to workers to commemorate the 2020 May Celebration.

The annual May Day Celebration, which is globally recognized as a day of solidarity with workers, used to be marked in Ghana with national and regional parades, however, this year’s event, had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The event on the theme: “COVID -19 in Ghana: Impact on Employment and Working Conditions”, which was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was organised by the TUC in collaboration with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

Dr Baah said in another instance a company in the fishing subsector in Tema, in order to comply with social distancing rules, the company has reduced the number of workers per shift per day.

He said this same company reported that business slowed down considerably during the partial lockdown because customers were not allowed entry into Tema to transact business; adding that almost all workers in the company were asked to stay home without pay.

Dr Baah again cited that a paint manufacturing company which exports its products to countries in the West African sub-region had to shut down its plant and all employees were sent home because almost all these countries have closed their borders.

He said shops in Accra and Kumasi have suffered a very drastic reduction in sales because of the restriction on movement of persons for three weeks.

“Those that are still operating find it difficult to pay salaries, social security and taxes. One company complained about its inability to provide PPEs for its staff because of huge loss of revenue,” Dr Baah said.

He said a real estate company sent home all its employees with 50 per cent salary.
He said in the hotels and tourism sector; the effects has been more devastating; declaring that hundreds of workers have lost their jobs.

“The few who are lucky to keep their jobs have suffered pay cuts because of reduction in hours or days of work,” he said.

Dr Baah mentioned that in the aviation sector, due to the closure of the airport all airlines had stopped operations.
He said companies that were providing aviation services and employing hundreds of workers have had to either shut down completely or keep skeleton staff to handle emergency aviation services.

He said in the informal economy workers including farmers, traders, barbers, shoe shine boys, hairdressers, and hawkers have lost their livelihoods; adding that obviously, these enterprises need help.

He said the TUC agrees with the recommendations submitted by Ghana Employers Association’s to the Minister for Finance; calling on Government to quickly develop and implement a comprehensive Economic Response Strategic to deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This, he said, would require stabilisation and stimulus packages for businesses and households to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy, adding that the GH¢600 million announced by government was a good start, but more support was needed for businesses.

On his part, Professor Amin Alhassan, Director-General, GBC, said: “We do not want this day to be remembered as the May Day celebration that was cancelled because of COVID-19.

We want it to be remembered as the day when the National May Celebration event was moved into GBC studios for Ghanaians across the country to stay home and celebrate with us.”

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