Exploitation happens to be among the unacceptable acts that the laws of the nation and specifically the Trade Union frowns upon but yet in our current dispensation, exploitation has become legally rampant in our various firms/institutions. I used legally because there appears to be no mouth piece for the one who is exploited so exploitation is done freely without fear of victimization.
One would ask what the meaning of exploitation is? Exploitation simply means to make or get value from something and that is positive. On the other hand, Exploitation means when you use something or someone in a way that makes the “user” feel good but the “used” feel been treated unfairly because it is used beyond its capacity. When we lower it down to our various firms in this country, there are various forms of exploitation rendered upon the innocent Ghanaian citizenry, for example, though small scale mining is regarded an illegal operation based on the externalities it cause to its inhabitants and many other social problems, this business is still in operation. It is in operation because the government of the day plays politics with it in order to win both parliamentary and presidential seats in such constituencies.
The main source of employment for those in Prestea, Huni valley and Bogoso in the western region for example are basically small scale miners, no attempt has being made by government both past and present to provide good source of employment and livelihood for such persons. To however win their votes, candidates rather encourage their illegal activities by promising to fortify and implement measures to ensure their operation is made much comfortable instead of a legislature to ban and ensure good living conditions in such areas. The main essence of this paper is not to talk about political strategies in winning power, however, it’s another way of addressing exploitation in such a sector. A lady I interviewed who goes by the name Martha explained that, she also does the small scale business and since she is a woman, she carries the sand meant for washing and later extracting the pieces of these mineral resources which Is the gold. According to her, she carries about 90 pans of sand for the miners and is given 10cedis a day and that is what she uses to feed her children, she carried the sand sometime to make enough money for feeding and unfortunately she started sneezing blood and had to stop for that day, if this is not exploitation, then what would we call it? Whose fault is it in the first place?
Now coming down to businesses with license to operate as legal entities too, the exploitation in these sectors have been polished to make it seem normal, the exploitation spans from working hours, working conditions, working allowances due employees etc. The genesis of these working conditions which are currently unfavorable began from the IMF bailout. Government requested the help of the IMF in the year 2014 for a possible bailout from its economic woes following high inflation rates, depreciation of the cedi, huge wage bill, among others.
In early February 2015 government said it had concluded most of the outstanding issues concerning the negotiations with the IMF.
Government has stated that the bailout program is to boast investor confidence in Ghana’s economy. Nonetheless, it has its own associated unfriendly side effects which the Trade Union Congress spoke against. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) reiterated its stance to resist any intervention from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would worsen the plight of Ghanaian workers. Government reached an agreement with the IMF that sought to see the country receive about $940 million to help turn its ailing economy round in 2015.
There were concerns raised, that the conditions to be attached to the bailout will gravely affect Ghanaians and surely it did and that’s the effect of what is happening now.
The TUC spoke against this move by the government because of how such a move would affect working conditions and employment in general. Kofi Asamoah was very clear on this point that, the IMF bailout and its conditionalities would include job cuts so the need for an alternative to revamp our dying economy. I believe the government was very positive the IMF move was a step in the right direction and didn’t have much time to consider the second side of it or possibly, it did know the bad side of the entire IMF involvement but wanted to just apply “the dead goat syndrome”.
Exploitation from this angle worked this way, because of the IMF involvement and the conditionalities which were attached to ensure the economy gets on its foot again, job cuts was one of the conditions. A cut in jobs had an adverse effect on this economy from 2014 to date. The universities didn’t stop operating, they kept producing graduates in that year and subsequent years from both public and private universities. The influx of graduates with a cut in jobs resulted in demand for labor being minimal as compared to its supply. Let’s take for instance, if the corned beef producing firm acquires factor inputs at ease in terms of price and therefore decides to take advantage of the situation and hence produces more into the market without considering market demand then the price for the corned beef would be sold for a cheaper price, you go to the market and tend to buy more and make use of it in circumstances where you wouldn’t have if you should have bought it at a higher price. The reason is this, the IMF bailout caused a cut in jobs with an increasing graduate population year after year and since the jobs are not available to accommodate these graduates, we get a higher unemployment rate, the few available jobs takes advantage of the situation and employs a section of these graduates and agrees to offer a wage that such employee never imagined would accept whilst in school and had bigger plans then.
It is such a kerfuffle to see a university student who studied biochemistry or business administration to be walking on the street looking for clients to sign up for an insurance company he works for or doing general sales for a bank with an outrageous sales target and at the end of the day he would be given some scanty basic salary and a commission if only he meets up sales target. There are no jobs, we always talk about this and it’s an undisputable fact that the IMF bailout has done us much worse than bad. The government of the day is doing his best with infrastructure and that’s much welcomed but that is not what would help the unemployed graduate nor the exploited, what is needed is the cutting of sods of industries to commence operation and absorb the unemployed graduates which if care is not taken would cripple and consume the nation of its GDP. I know of companies that, working hours is 9 hours including your break and when you are seated to serve customers, you must look your mobile phone in a locker far from your work station, meanwhile such jobs doesn’t pay even up to 1000Ghana Cedis and yet the conditions attached to them are very much bemusing. It’s true, each firm must have its own rules and regulations but whatever the case, no firm is above the Ghanaian law so the need for Trade Union to supervise rules and regulations made by companies and render as null and void where the need arises. Most firms on the soil of this nation have taken the law into their own hands and are treating their employees unfairly as if there is no union who seek their interest. Now let me elucidate briefly the duty of the union “A labor union is an organization intended to represent the collective interests of workers in negotiations with employers over wages, hours, and benefits and working conditions” but I don’t see this at work in most corporate bodies.
In conclusion, there are no jobs currently but the few available ones needs proper scrutiny by the labor union concerning its rules and regulations and how it is meted out on employees to ensure employee safety and efficiency.
Writter: Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie
“The Public Vigilante”
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