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10.12.2009 Business & Finance

Trade unionists urge Ghana to ratify ILO Convention on maternity leave

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Trade unionists urge Ghana to ratify ILO Convention on maternity leave

December 09, 2009
Accra, Dec. 9, GNA - Dr Yaw Baah, Deputy Secretary General of Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Wednesday urged employers to discard the perception that women were "expensive" and less reliable on labour issues due to the granting of maternity leave and other family related duties.

He noted that this notion affected certain attitudes that infringed the rights of women workers and discouraged them from competing to realizing their full potential in the labour market.

Dr Baah made the call in a speech read for him by Togbe Adom Drayi II, Head, Administrative Department, GTUC at a forum in Accra.

The forum, organised by GTUC, Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) and the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa, was to sensitize workers and impress upon government to ratify the ILO Convention 183 (Maternity Protection) as a matter of urgency.

The Convention adopted in 2000 which Ghana is yet to ratify states among other issues that maternity leave for working women should be 14 weeks instead of 12 weeks under the defunct Convention 103 adopted in 1919.

Dr Baah pointed out that working women, whether in the formal or informal sector, needed protection to safely undergo their reproductive activities.

He said any action that sought to deny or limit protection for working women in maternity was an act of discrimination and an affront to gender equality.

Dr Baah said the work place was no longer the domain of economic enterprise for only men since women constituted a large proportion of the workforce.

He stressed the need to make provision for child-care facilities such as special rooms for breastfeeding or crèche for the care of pre-school children at workplaces to support working mothers.

He said the campaign for the ratification of the Convention by Ghana was a just and legitimate social action because its provisions covered wide range of issues which would enhance maternity protection.

Dr Baah therefore asked all stakeholders to support its ratification adding, "Ghana must ratify ILO Convention 183 now. This is the time to act".

Ms Theresa N. Abuga, Head of Women Desk of GTUC, called for commitment and support from men to ratify the Convention.

She said continual education for members of GTUC at the grassroots, districts and regional levels would be maintained to get them informed on the issues while employers and government would be lobbied to ratify the Convention.

Mrs Veronica Ayikwei Kofie, a Gender and Human Rights Activist, called for the early ratification of the Convention because of its benefits to women.

She said: "When babies are well breastfed they would not become sick frequently for nursing mothers to help increase productivity and reduce medical bills for employers".

Mr Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Employers Association, said it supported ratification of the Convention because issues on women's health, including maternity was critical.


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