Mr Joshua Ansah, General Secretary of Timber and Woodworkers Union of Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), has observed that workplace programmes that focused on HIV/AIDS for management and workers could help increase productivity in the country.
He therefore suggested the inclusion of HIV/AIDS policies in Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of unions and institutions to help eliminate discrimination and stigmatisation of people infected with the disease.
Mr Ansah made the observation at the opening session of a two-day workshop on HIV/AIDS organised by the union in Kumasi.
It was attended by 30 participants Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions under the theme “Fighting Stigmatisation and Discrimination against HIV/AIDS at Workplace” and sponsored by Bill Morris Testimonial Fund on HIV/AIDS in Africa through the British Trade Union Congress.
The workshop was to raise awareness of the impact of the disease among trade union leaders and members to equip them with the knowledge and skills in order not to contract the disease.
It was also to enlighten them on collective bargaining on the rights and entitlements of workers affected and infected with the disease through training and educational programmes.
Mr Ansah noted that workers in the wood and forestry sector had been vulnerable due to the geographical situation they found themselves as they moved from an area to the other, leaving their spouses and families for sometime.
He said the impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic could be reduced through concerted efforts of workers conscious of the dangers inherent in the pandemic and the need to avoid sexual promiscuity.
Mr Ansah appealed to authorities and stakeholders in the nation's development to be kind and show compassion to People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWA) and not discriminate against them in society.
Nana Owusu Boatey, Occupational Safety and Health HIV/AIDS Desk Officer of GTUC, noted that workers in the timber and forestry industry were proned to the pandemic and its effects could affect loss of skilled workers that would eventually affect productivity.
He explained that the outreach programmes would contribute to the prevention and spread of the disease through the dissemination of information and advice on risks of infection, Voluntary Testing and Counselling (VCT) and access to treatment, care and support for people living with the disease.