Ghana on Friday, joined the rest of the world to mark the sixth commemoration of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
The event on the theme: “Mobilising National Support for Promotion of Rights of Domestic Workers in Ghana,” was observed with presentations on the national situation, responses from stakeholders on how to forge ahead with the ratification of the ILO Convention 189, and passage of the draft Domestic Workers Regulations of 2016.
Ms Adwoa Sakyi, the Africa Regional Women’s Co-ordinator of the International Union of Food (IUF), said although Ghana played an active role leading to the adoption of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, it was yet to ratify it.
She said the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MoELR) had since 2011 been working on a memorandum for Parliament for the ratification of the Convention, and even went ahead to establish a taskforce to develop a policy framework on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
However, in spite of these commitments, six years down the line, the country was still yet to ratify the Convention, but was hopeful that the story would change by the close of next year, owing to the renewed assurances made by the present government in both its political manifesto and fiscal statements to Parliament early this year.
She said the Day therefore presented an opportune period to encourage the Unionisation of domestic workers, to form a unified voice, to push government to speed up the processes towards the ratification of the Convention that would actively and effectively promote and protect their fundamental human rights.
Ms Sakyi explained that the Convention was a new instrument that promoted the strong recognition of the economic and social value of domestic work, and a call for action to address the existing exclusion of these service providers from labour and social protection.
“Given that most domestic workers are women, the new standards are an important step towards gender equality in the world of work for ensuring women’s equal rights and protection under the law,” she said.
She however gave the assurance that the county was committed to implementing all the provisions of the Convention, while other necessary legal processes continued, saying the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had also initiated the validation of the draft Labour Regulation for Domestic Workers and hoped to get it passed by the soon
Ms Sakyi said using the ILO Convention 189, domestic workers had mobilised themselves into a union known as the Domestic Workers Services Union of the Trades Union Congress, which was officially out-doored with a founding conference in 2015, and had branches in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Cape Coast.
She said members met regularly to share their experiences, acquire knowledge about the various legislations as well as their rights and issues that affected their work, and to further build a unified force to voice their concerns for action.
She called on all stakeholders to join in the crusade for advocating the recognition and respect of domestic workers, and expressed the hope that Ghana would become the 25th country to ratify the ILO Convention 189.
Mr Francis Ofori Quansah, a Deputy Chief Labour Officer in Charge of Administration at the MoELR, said unionising the informal sector was not that easy, and commended the leadership of the Domestic Workers Service Union for the great work.
He affirmed government’s commitment towards the recognition and respect of domestic workers as a critical force in the service sector, and ensure they received fair wages and worked in decent environments for their wellbeing.
Mr Emmanuel K. Mensah, a Representative from the ILO Country Office, urged government to speed up the processes towards the effective ratification of the Convention, to provide a legal backing for protection for domestic workers.
He also called for firmness, truthfulness, loyalty and mutual respect from both employers and employees of domestic services, to avoid cheating, disrespect and mistreatments that often dominated stories in the sector.