A national forum to mark this year’s International Domestic Workers Day has asked the government to expedite efforts towards the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
Stakeholders believe that the ratification of the convention, which was adopted by the ILO in 2011, would effectively help in promoting the welfare of domestic workers across the country.
In addition, the stakeholders are convinced that the Convention would help to promote the recognition of the economic and social value of domestic work, and include such service providers in the labour and social protection safety net.
The Day was observed under the theme, “Mobilising national support for promotion of rights of domestic workers in Ghana,” and the forum, held in Accra on Friday, also discussed the domestic workers situation and the draft Domestic Workers Regulations 2016.
Ms Adwoa Sakyi, Africa Regional Women’s Co-ordinator of the International Union of Food (IUF), said it was regrettable that although Ghana played an active role leading to the adoption of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, it was yet to ratify it.
She appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations since 2011 in that regard, recalling that the Ministry had been working on a memorandum for Parliament for the ratification of the Convention, and established a taskforce to develop a policy framework on decent work for domestic workers.
“However, in spite of these commitments, six years down the line, the country is yet to ratify the Convention,” she noted.
According to her, the Convention was a new instrument that promotes the strong recognition of the economic and social value of domestic work, and a call for action to address the existing exclusion of these service providers from labour and social protection.
“Given that most domestic workers are women, the new standards are an important step towards gender equality in the world of work for ensuring women’s equal rights and protection under the law,” she said.
Ms Sakyi said using the ILO Convention 189, domestic workers had mobilised themselves into a union known as the Domestic Workers Services Union of the Trades Union Congress, which was officially out-doored with a founding conference in 2015, and had branches in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Cape Coast.
She called on all stakeholders to join in the crusade in advocating the recognition and respect for domestic workers, and expressed the hope that Ghana would become the 25th country to ratify the ILO Convention 189.
Mr Emmanuel K. Mensah, a Representative of the ILO Country Office, urged government to speed up the processes towards the effective ratification of the Convention so as to provide a legal backing for the protection of domestic workers.
Mr Francis Ofori Quansah, Administrator of the Labour Department, affirmed government’s commitment in recognising domestic workers as a critical force in the service sector, and to ensure they received fair wages and worked in decent environment.
Among its articles, the ILO Convention 189 enjoins member countries that ratify it to take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence, as well as ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers.
Also countries must ensure that domestic workers, like workers generally, enjoy fair terms of employment as well as decent working conditions and, if they reside in the household, decent living conditions that respect their privacy.
In addition, countries must ensure that domestic workers are informed of their terms and conditions of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and preferably, where possible, through written contracts in accordance with national laws, regulations or collective agreements, in particular:
Furthermore, it requires member countries to take measures to ensure that work performed by domestic workers who are under the age of 18 and above the minimum age of employment does not deprive them of compulsory education, or interfere with opportunities to participate in further education or vocational training.
In taking measures to ensure that domestic workers and employers of domestic workers enjoy freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, member countries shall protect the right of domestic workers and employers of domestic workers to establish and, subject to the rules of the organization concerned, to join organizations, federations and confederations of their own choosing.
By Samuel Mingle/adrdaily.com