12.07.2006 Health

Veep Slams The Stigmatisation Of People Living With AIDS

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Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Tuesday slammed the stigmatisation of People Living with HIV/AIDS at work places and said combating the anomaly remained a very significant role for the trade unions.

He called for a coherent Labour/Management policy on HIV/AIDS to ensure that all aspects of the problem were tackled in a sustainable and acceptable manner.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama expressed these views in Accra, when he addressed the 7th Africa Regional Executive Committee meeting of the Union Network International (UNI), a global body that is concerned with workplace policies.

Speaking on the theme: "Fighting HIV/AIDS Through Action and Workplace Policies: Experiences from Unions", at the three-day meeting, he called for proactive approach by the Government, employers and organised labour in the formulation of workplace policies to deal with the menace in a more responsible manner.

"This will enable us to win sympathy and support for those infected since we are all affected by their plight either directly or indirectly", he said.

Vice President Alhaji Mahama stressed: "We need to continuously remind ourselves that HIV/AIDS is one of the most serious humanitarian challenges of our times especially in Africa".

He said the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Africa was above the global average, citing Cote d'Ivoire with 10.8 per cent and Togo with 6.5 per cent.

The Vice President asked the delegates to serve as agents of change to bring a healthier, safer and a better work environment to the about three billion global workforce that were vulnerable to the pandemic.

He also touched on conflicts between governments and labour unions in Africa, which he said were undermining economic development and called for collaborative efforts to reverse the crises to facilitate accelerated development.

Mr Napoleon Kpoh, UNI-Africa Regional President, said the interests of workers in many countries on the Continent were sacrificed and called on judges to uphold their vows to stand on the side of justice in dealing with such cases.

He said the world was witnessing scientific and technological changes that were affecting work ethos resulting in unprecedented consequences.

Mr Kpoh, who is also the General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, called for new responses from the Trade Union Movement to re-assert its relevance.

Mr Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI, spoke against modern day slavery, which he said was in the guise of human trafficking and oppressive working environments.

He called for very strong trade unions to accelerate economic growth and development.

Mr Kofi Asamoah, the Acting Secretary General of the Trade Unions Congress, called for a united labour front to push the agenda of workers to improve on their lot.

The meeting is expected to design and recommend socially responsible workplace policies to deal with the rate of HIV/AIDS infection and the social impact of the pandemic on the economies African countries.

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