Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary-General, Trades Union Congress (TUC), has urged workers to see the ongoing fight against COVID-19 as a shared responsibility.
“It is time for us, as individuals, to complement what our Government has done by protecting ourselves and others from this virus. We all have to play our part,” 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, which was attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was organised by the TUC in collaboration with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
“Since the first two cases of Coronavirus infection were detected in Ghana, we have all been witnesses to the effort our government has made to protect us from this dangerous virus,” Dr Baah stated.
“The bold measures Government has taken have included a ban on public gatherings, closure of schools and universities, closure of our borders and the imposition of restrictions on movements of persons in Accra and Kumasi.”
He said despite the effect of the pandemic on revenue, Government had provided free food, water and electricity to vulnerable people; adding that health sector workers had benefitted from some incentive packages including tax reliefs and pay increases.
Dr Baah said over 100,000 tests had been conducted so far; stating that these efforts notwithstanding, over 1,500 cases of the Coronavirus infections had been recorded in Ghana and eleven people have died from the Covid-19.
He said thankfully, a significant number of those who were infected have recovered and others were under care and were expected to recover.
“When we see the death tolls in the United States (over 55,000 deaths), Italy (over 26,000 deaths), Spain (over 23,000 deaths), France (over 22,000 deaths, and the United Kingdom (over 20,000) deaths, we wonder what would have happened without the bold and decisive measures our government took to contain the virus?” the Secretary-General asked.
He said earlier this week, the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) comprising representatives of Government, Organised Labour and Employers, issued a 10-point guidelines on safety at workplaces.
According to the guidelines, all employers are to provide the necessary Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and related facilities for the safety and health of workers, in compliance with the World Health Organisation safety protocols and the Ministry of Health guidelines.
It urges all public and private sector employers to organise work in such a way that all the relevant safety protocols can be strictly complied with at all workplaces.
Dr Baah said that it was now a scientifically-established fact that face masks can help prevent coronavirus infections.
“We should all endeavour to wear face masks on all commercial vehicles, at all workplaces, and at all public places in all parts of the country,” he said.
“Government should also consider supplying free face masks to the most vulnerable people in our society.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic broke out for just about two months but the devastation it had caused in the economic and social lives would take years to restore.
He said the Labour Research and Policy Institute of TUC had been analyzing the economic impact of the health crisis including the effects of the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi.
He said the research was ongoing but the preliminary results showed the devastating effects of the health crisis on jobs and livelihoods in both the formal and informal segments of our economy.
As part of efforts to contain the COVID-19, Dr Baah appealed to Ghanaians to abide by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health guidelines; such as social distancing, frequently washing of hands with soap under running water and the use of hand sanitizers.
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.”