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28.04.2004 General News

Enforce Provisions of new Labour Act - General Secretary

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Accra, April 28, GNA - Mr Abraham Okine, General Secretary of the Public Services Workers Union, on Wednesday said the various provisions in the new Labour Act that aimed to improve the health; safety and welfare standards of workers must be made to work.

He said unless the many rights, duties and responsibilities of both workers and employers defined in the Law were enforced it would not make any significant impact on the current working conditions. Government, he said, should be willing to sanction employers who deliberately expose their workers to dangerous working conditions that results in their injury and death.

Mr Okine was speaking at a seminar to commemorate 28th April Workers Memorial Day, which is marked annually in remembrance of persons, who died as a result of injuries and accidents at the workplace.

The Affiliates of the International Federation of Building and Woodworkers Union are holding the seminar to discuss how best to improve the working environment for workers in the wood, building, forestry and agricultural related industries.

Mr Okine, who is also the Coordinator of IFBWW Ghana Affiliates, said most Ghanaian employers had no policy on health and safety and did not encourage the formation of joint safety committees so that workers could participate in decisions on their health and safety. He said companies did not make adequate provision in their budgets for the safety needs of workers and blamed workers for their apathetic attitude to health and safety issues, saying most of them preferred monetary compensation from employers to securing their health and safety.

"There have been instances where the protection is supplied but some workers have sold them out for pecuniary gains," Mr Okine said. Mrs Sarah Sam, IFBWW Education/Gender Coordinator, said the Union's Global Health and Safety Programme was designed as part of a strategic plan to promote workers health and safety and to create awareness on workplace accidents that were predictable and preventable. She said as part of a global action the IFBWW had been campaigning for a worldwide ban on all new use of asbestos and better control over asbestos waste disposal.

The IFBWW is also lobbying for a new ILO convention on workers in situation needing protection and code of practice for occupational health and safety in the handling of wood and wood based materials. It is estimated that about two million people die each year from accidents or illness caused by bad working conditions.