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10.08.2018 Opinion

Weeping In Time Of Reaping. The Cry Of Casual Workers

By Jessey  Kuntu Blankson
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As I looked at the tickling of the clock in my bedroom this morning, many thoughts runs through my mind concerning the 19 years old boy who died after the accident at Century Industries Company. In the Daily Graphic newspaper, it was headlined ’19-Year-Old dies after accident at Century Industries Company. I asked myself, what are we looking for in this world of sin? Why can’t we have all that we need within a twinkle of an eye? Sitting quietly on my bed, I finally came to the conclusion that life is a struggle. The struggle is not only for the fittest but everyone on this earth.

In this article I tend to veer towards the view of protecting casual workers and instituting stringent measures to check institutions and employers, who violate the Labour Act, with the node of bringing them to book .The article headline gives signal of the pain Casual workers go through as to what happened at Century Industries Company.

When Junior High School leavers and Senior High School leavers graduates complete, they are confronted with the dilemma of what career to purse or what to do after school. Most youth engage themselves in casual works to make a living and also save money to continue schooling. In the case of Abdul Narsir Adams, things turned differently for him.

Reports indicates that Abdul Narsir Adams was a worker with Century Industries Company Limited, a subsidiary of Melcom Group of companies. The incident happened about 12:30pm when an iron beam being guided by five workers of the company on a crane slipped on its rail and created a loud bang causing them to run of fright. The Director confirmed that Adam was hit by the iron beam and got injured. He was rushed to the Cocoa Clinic, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Today our walls with obituary posters have the inscription ‘what a shock, so soon’. Anyone who reads such post ask questions of what went wrong. As a writer and an activist I will always make sure my pen ink fight against ills within our society.

There have been many of such incidents that had occurred and given a blind look and a deaf ear by the authorities, Casual jobs are usually short-term or temporary jobs that involve irregular hours. They are jobs that are not guaranteed to be ongoing and do not provide paid holiday leave or sick leave.

According to the country’s Labour Act, appointments of persons, who have worked with any establishment after six months, should be regularised.LABOUR ACT - 2003 (ACT 651),Section - 74 - Casual Worker provides that

  1. A contract of employment of a casual worker need not be in writing.

    (2)A casual worker shall
    (a) be given equal pay for work of equal value for each day worked in that organization;

    (b) have access to any necessary medical facility made available to the workers generally by the employer;

    (c) be entitled to be paid for overtime work by his or her employer in accordance with section 35; and

    (d) be paid full minimum remuneration for each day on which the worker attends work, whether or not the weather prevents the worker from carrying on his or her normal work and whether it is possible or not, to arrange alternative work for the worker on such a day.

Abuse of casual workers had become very rampant in today’s world of doing business. When a person gets a job, job specifications are clearly defined to meet expectation.

Reports indicate that Adam of Century Industries company was employed only a month and his main duty was to pack the finished products into the cars for delivery. This was the duty of Adam. Adam had no knowledge on how to handle the beam. There were workers who had that requisite skills. Even if they are sacked,does not give management the edge to allow the casual workers to assume that role.

In this context job specification did not much the requisite skills of the casual workers. Their skills in delivery differ from the beam operation. One needs the technical know how to deal with such operation. Again safety needs to prevent hazards were also not provided.

Most of our factories employs people that lack the requisite skills on operating on machine. If labor experts are to visit most of our factories, it will be seen that casual workers are those that work a lot and have low stipends of about ‎GH₵ 180 cedis as a take home. Also they have no access to any necessary medical facility made available to the workers generally by the employer. There are times casual workers have no say to with the day to day admnistration and not part of decision making process. They are not given chance to raise concern or express themselves. An attempt will lead to job lost and insult.

It is time the Ministry of Labour and Employment act to end this menace. Ghana is signatory to international conventions against the exploitation of casual workers, and it is unwise that institutions would be allowed to violate these conventions and laws of the country.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."