The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) says it will continue engaging government to ensure that good agricultural policies were achieved.
The Union believed that the Planting for Food and Jobs should be audited and overhauled to enable it to become relevant and sustainable to achieve its objectives.
Mr Edward Kareweh, the General Secretary of GAWU speaking to the Ghana News Agency ahead of the 2023 May Day Celebrations said the Union had worked over the years towards upholding the tenets of the Decent Work agenda while combating all forms of Modern Slavery within the agricultural value chain.
This year’s National Celebrations will be held in the Upper East Regional Capital, Bolgatanga on the theme:” Protecting incomes and pensions in an era of economic crisis: Out responsibility.”
He said Ghana was not an Island and current global developments were negatively affecting all and called on governments to ameliorate the effects by making investments in the strategic sectors of the economy.
“We use this opportunity to commend all farmers, business leaders and workers and wish them a happy workers day and call on the Government to protect and promote the rights of workers within the Agricultural sector against any form of slavery,” he said.
The General Secretary said the future of the country depended on the workforce of today whether formal or informal and it was pertinent that, government developed every aspect of human endeavour.
He said for several decades, the observation of May Day had been a good time to remind workers and especially the government that, guaranteeing decent employment within the agricultural sector should not be politicized.
He said they needed to work at combating all indicators and actions that promote modern slavery, human trafficking, child labour, forced labour, unfair farm practices and violence and harassment by restoring hope to the vulnerable in the society specifically children.
He urged the government to protect and promote the rights of workers within the Agricultural sector against any form of slavery.
Mr Kareweh said to attain sustainable development and equitable economic growth, the government could not be oblivious of the fact that Agriculture played a critical role in providing employment and sustaining the Ghanaian economy.
He said while about 88 per cent of the workforce were employed in the informal sector, where many earn less, a huge chunk of this percentage, which was likewise sited in the rural areas, fall under agriculture.
“This sector of the economy is beseeched with lots of precarity leading to most of its agents being trapped in abject poverty,” he said.
He said the sector was characterized by significant decent work deficits, which include the prevalence of informality and weak labour market institutions, unfair farm contract practices, barriers to the exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Others are ineffective law enforcement and inadequate labour inspection; limited awareness of rights and mechanisms to access them; and an inadequate environment for enterprise development.
It is estimated that over 215 million child labourers are engaged in several economic activities in the world today and that some 60 per cent of them work in the agricultural sector.
“If the country, by and large, fails to pay critical attention to the bad signals, majority of our children would be wiped out due to the precarious nature of agriculture,” he said.
He said this, therefore, was a national issue that demands immediate and drastic interventions and joint effort from the government, Organized Labour, the various CSO, Agribusinesses, security agencies and the entire Global Community to achieve goal 8.7 – to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking, and child labour, which form a key pillar of Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It was for this and many reasons that GAWU had partnered with ActionAid Ghana with funding from the Norwegian embassy to implement the Combating Modern Slavery Project which sought to complement stakeholder efforts at reducing occurrences.