In order to protect the work of employees at a time of crisis like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is proposing the introduction of Workers Compensation Insurance in preparation for future pandemics.
TUC in its report of a preliminary assessment of COVID-19 indicates that a decline in Gross Domestic Product growth is already manifesting in job losses and livelihoods in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy.
Speaking at the forum on COVID-19 and its impact on workers in the country, the Director of Labour Research and Policy Institute at the trade union congress Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo said, this scheme will allow workers to have access to funds which will be at least equivalent to their basic salaries in times of crisis.
“We propose a contributory scheme that allows employers and workers to have access to funds to pay workers at least their basic salaries in times of crisis,” Mr. Otoo said.
“With hotels reporting massive declines in occupancy, international and domestic airlines grounded, restaurants and schools closed and exports/imports halted, joblessness, job insecurity and income insecurity are affecting hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians if not millions,” the Congress stated.
Although employers in the formal sector are not announcing mass layoffs, the TUC maintains that reports from various unions, especially those in the private sector, suggest unionized and non-unionized workers are losing jobs in thousands.
Further to this, TUC said part-time employees and casual workers are the most vulnerable.
“Employers that have kept their workers are struggling to pay them. Hence, they are likely to terminate the appointment of many more workers if the pandemic persists beyond a certain point,” the Congress said.
For instance, the Ghana Tourism Authority, in March, 2020 reported that hotel occupancy was down to 18 percent. In April, most hotels projected occupancy rate of less than 10 percent.
As at the end of April, 2020, 23 percent of all workers in the hospitality industry had lost their jobs. More than one-third (34 percent) had taken their annual leave. In the restaurants and hotels sub-sector a quarter (25 percent) of employees have lost their jobs. Only some of the hotels managed to pay their workers for March, 2020.
Currently, a number of employers across the various sectors of the economy are struggling to pay workers their salaries.