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“For me, it is all about people having jobs, and that is why I make no apology for having focused relentlessly on employment and job creation.” Enda Kenny
Decent Work Agenda (DWA) has become increasingly recognised as a key approach to global and national development and the global financial crisis has also underscored the critical response measures that focus on decent job creation and social job protection by intervening in the labour market to protect workers and promote better employment outcomes in both developed and developing countries including Ghana.
In a recent related development, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Ghana has also underscored the need for the government to create decent jobs to move the nation out of poverty and according to the Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, “We need jobs to take us out of poverty. We can get out of poverty only when we manage to create decent jobs for our people”.
Poverty, as others will define as a general scarcity or the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money, is a multifaceted concept that includes social, economic, and political elements that have been a danger to socio-economic development globally and the weapon which can be used against this global phenomenon involves full employment and decent work creation especially in Ghana.
I can now recall the pre-celebration event which was also organised by the TUC and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The Director of Labour Policy and Research at the Labour College and labour market specialist, Kwabena Nyarko-Otoo, noted that after 60 years of independence, there is very little to celebrate since thousands of workers in the country still remain without social protection.
The labour expert pointed out that even though the country has clocked 60 years of independence, decent jobs, employment opportunities, workers’ rights, and social protection are still a mirage to workers in the country.
Moreover, according to Dr Baah, the figures emanating from the Ghana Statistical Service indicate that only about 1.5 million out of a working population of 13 million Ghanaians between the ages of 15 and 60 years were engaged in what could be termed as decent jobs.
The figures further also specified that 10 million out of the working population of 13 million are also engaged in what they described as “bad” jobs, while the remaining 1.5 million were jobless.
Dr Baah reiterated that by bad jobs he was referring to workers “who are even not sure about their salaries, when they are going to be paid; even when they are sick they have to go to work or they could still be fired. These are jobs that do not guarantee the future of a person. These are not jobs that will guarantee your social security when you retire at the age of 60”.
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, once stated: “It doesn't matter whether you do a small or big job; what matters is job contentment.” It means workers in Ghana should have job satisfaction irrespective of the job sizes, whether big or small and the labour law of Ghana should also be a guide to the employers to treat their workers equally, fairly and legitimately.
It is very imperative for employers to do so in a sense that the figures from the Ghana Statistical Service show that majority of the able working population in Ghana now do not have decent work in which decent work should be created and the one already there should be also upheld to serve as a weapon against Ghana’s poverty.
It also means that the government and private establishments should expand their employment opportunities to absorb the rest of the larger population who are actively ready for jobs but are not getting to reduce the poverty rates in the country.
The well-being of the Ghanaian workers should be top priority for their employers in order to satisfy them as International Labour Organization defined decent work as productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity.
It also involves opportunities for work that deliver a fair income; provide security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families. It offers better prospects for personal development which also encourages social integration, gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organise and to participate in decisions that affect their lives, and guarantee equal opportunities and treatment for all.
In local government service, for example, certain category of workers is more respected than others and instead of the government to make all categories or classes of workers attractive, it is rather creating excessive competition and, therefore, workers want to join certain classes and leave the others while all the classes are very imperative to implement government policies locally as decentralisation demands.
Productive employment is one of the key mechanisms for ensuring effective distribution of economic development since a major portion of family income, and the livelihood of individuals essentially stems from earnings generated in the labour market.
The ILO report depicts that decent and productive jobs, sustainable enterprises and economic transformation play a key role in reducing poverty. While development assistance remains important, countries that managed to pull themselves out of poverty were those that were able to move from low to higher productive activities, while strengthening institutions for governance and social protection for workers and their families.
Citizens are expecting the government to create more decent jobs, reduce utility bills and taxes, improve electricity supply, pay workers well, that promotion should be done on time, there should be provision of all required resources for workers among others in order to attract and motivate workers to also go to work on time and work efficiently and with this Ghana’s poverty will be eradicated. As Jim Clifton once said: “The demands of leadership have changed. The highest levels of leadership require mastery of a new task: job creation. Traditional leadership through politics, military force, religion, or personal values won't work in the future like it has in the past.”
By: Abraham Frank Eshun