The Vice Presidential Candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang has said the party is committed to tackling sexual harassment and gender-based violence across Ghana.
She said the party will remove barriers to justice for victims of sexual harassment and support survivors if voted into power.
“We are also laser-focused on prevention, which is why our government will work towards passing an Anti-Sexual Harassment Law to compel employers and co-workers to eliminate such conduct from the workplace entirely.”
“The John and Jane ticket of the NDC is committed to improving the relationship between government and worker unions. We respect workers and understand unions as an important aspect of our progress as a democracy.”
Naana Jane said the NDC will also ensure that childcare is available at workplaces as the law demands.
“As much as possible, we will work to make this a reality in the informal sector as well. We already started on this project by providing childcare facilities for Kejetia and Kotokuraba Markets. We will continue on this path,” she said.
Nana Jane Opoku-Agyemang said this in a statement to mark 16 days of activism for “No Violence Against Women and Children” to mark advocacy against gender-based violence. Below is a statement from Naana Jane detailing the party’s intentions
Greetings and Salutations
The NDC is the party of the masses and is the worker's party. Our formation, our history, our evolution, and our general character are all rooted in the efforts, aspirations, challenges, and wellbeing of workers. The party has always had workers at heart and has built on this relationship, ensuring that the NDC has consistently prioritized the welfare of the Ghanaian worker. We will not pretend, however, that there haven't been mistakes.
Like any such social alliance, it is not always easy to effect the compromises that hold it together and drive it forward. Both the NDC and Organized labour as stakeholders can admit to shortcomings. But we truly want the same things and can work together to achieve them. And the next NDC government will pursue this in a consistent and disciplined manner.
We have a lot to learn from you. Work is changing and this calls for major policy and regulatory changes and engagement between policymakers and the organisations that protect workers.
While we have to acknowledge that this digital century changes the face of work -Covid-19 has amplified this situation – we have some areas of work that will not be as dramatically affected by digital technology.
Traditional mining and factory work, for instance, will not disappear anytime soon though they will employ fewer and fewer people per unit of production and the skills sets required are changing in ways that threaten huge swathes of our workers. In newer industries, the same ICT, algorithms, and automation are changing the nature of work drastically. More people working from home or at least away from central “places of business” has often meant even longer working hours and less personal lives. And while there are nominally more self-employed people out there these people are actually still tied to the agendas of those who concentrate capital in their hands. Big business can now increasingly ignore their traditional obligations to provide workers with social security and other benefits. Indeed, there is a definite move on the part of even traditional businesses to force their employees off their direct payrolls into self-employed contractor status for exactly this reason. The next 4 years must see clearheaded and socially just thinking about the gig economy and social protection. For that we must work together. We would like to see more, not less, organized labour – and we would like to see greater working-class unity – based on democratic principles.
There are a number of specific policy directions that we can promise if, with your support, we make it to office in January. These are policies that others cannot make because concern for the small men and women is not in their DNA in the way it is in ours.
Most critical action to be canvassed by the NDC include:
- Ratification of the ILO CONVENTION 158, which talks about TERMINATION WITH REASON
- Effective supervision on activities of Private Employment Agencies.
- Enforcement of Section 12 of the Labour Act 651, which requires a written contract of employment for work done for a period of 6 months or for a number of working days equivalent to 6 months or more within a year.
- Contract of employment
- Enforce Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) provides the procedures for resolving industrial disputes in Ghana
The NDC has committed to work closely with labour unions to advance the interest of the working class. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the fragility of our economy and the vulnerability of workers to social and economic shocks due to the many inadequacies of existing protections.
But the crisis has also been instructive. This government's interventions have overwhelmingly favoured employers, some of whom have laid off workers even after receiving taxpayer-funded financial support. And in that prioritization, we see what and who really matters to them.
At a time such as this, you deserve a government that understands what the people's priorities are, and that dignity in their work is high on that list. You deserve a government that is prepared to stand with you in promoting the principles of decent work in a 21st-century economy. What does that mean?
A government that is committed to the needs of women in today's workplace:
- We will extend maternity leave by a month to give women 16 weeks of time off to rest, recover and return. In addition to this, we are introducing a one-week paternity leave for fathers as well.
- Ghana is yet to ratify ILO Convention 183, which is the Maternity Protection Convention and calls for only 2 additional weeks of paid maternity leave. We are committed to doing far more than this, because we know that a healthy family makes a healthy workforce.
- We will work with you to ensure that childcare is available at workplaces, as the law demands (Article 27: 1-3). As much as possible, we will work to make this a reality in the informal sector as well. We already started on this project by providing childcare facilities for Kejetia and Kotokuraba Markets. We will continue on this path.
- I note quickly that a comprehensive review of the Labour Act is currently underway, hence we make a commitment to expedite action towards a new Labour Act that is a win-win for government, employers, and trade unions.
A government that is committed to making the workplace safer for all workers:
- We are committed to taking action on sexual harassment and gender-based violence across our society, including the workplace. We have pledged to remove the barriers to justice for victims and to support survivors. But we are also laser-focused on prevention, which is why our government will work towards passing an Anti-Sexual Harassment Law to compel employers and cowokers to eliminate such conduct from the workplace entirely. Since Ghana is yet to ratify ILO Convention 190 on the elimination of violence and sexual harassment from the world of work, we have a lot to do.
- When we say “the workplace” we are not only referring to formal spaces. Domestic workers deserve these protections too. Many are subject to abuses that are not addressed by the Domestic Violence Act. This leaves such workers extremely vulnerable. Our plan to elevate DOVVSU to a directorate, to expand and re-equip it, will take this into account.
- Again, Ghana is yet to ratify ILO Convention 189 on the guarantee of decent working conditions for domestic workers.
A government that empathizes with the pressures of family life and responsibilities:
- We want to partner with you to ease the burden on workers with family members in need of care. We want to facilitate a national conversation on what forms such guarantees could take, such as paid family and medical leave.
- As a nation, we are yet to ratify ILO Convention 156 on protections for workers with family responsibilities.
A government that understands and plans for emerging trends in the world of work:
- We want to work together to extend labour protections to part-time and contract workers in the gig economy (e.g. Uber drivers). That includes establishing a common framework for establishing and enforcing their rights to collective bargaining for wages and conditions of service.
- Note: Ghana is yet to ratify ILO Convention 181 on protections for contract workers.
The John and Jane ticket of the NDC is committed to improving the relationship between government and worker unions. We respect workers and understand unions as an important aspect of our progress as a democracy. You are at the forefront of our economic growth, and we salute you. Thank you.