The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) has called for the elimination of all strategies and actions that promote modern slavery in the country.
Mr. Edward T. Kareweh, General Secretary of GAWU, speaking on behalf of the Union in a May Day message said the collaboration in combating these indicators and actions would restore hope to the vulnerable in society, especially children. Some of this modern slavery include human trafficking, child labor, forced labor, unfair farm practices, and violence and harassment. He said the commemoration of the Day was a good time to remind workers and especially, the Government that, guaranteeing decent employment within the agricultural sector should not be politicized. He said in an attempt to attain sustainable development and equitable economic growth, the Government could not be oblivious of the fact that Agriculture played a critical role in providing employment and sustaining the Ghanaian economy. The General Secretary said while about 88 percent of the workforce were employed in the informal sector, where many earned less, a huge chunk of this percentage, which was likewise sited in the rural areas, fell under agriculture. However, the sector is beset with a lot of precarity, leading to most of its agents being trapped in abject poverty.
Mr Kareweh added that the sector was characterised by significant decent work deficits, which include the prevalence of informality and weak labour market institutions, unfair farm contract practices, and barriers to the exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining. The rest are ineffective law enforcement and inadequate labour inspection; limited awareness of rights and mechanisms to access them, and an inadequate environment for enterprise development.
He said amidst the risky nature of agriculture, it was sad to note that about two-thirds of all child labour, occurs in agriculture.
The world in recent times has shown deep concern about the issue of child labour, trafficking and other forms of slavery and slavery-like practices. It is estimated that over 215 million child labourers are engaged in several economic activities in the world today and that some 60 per cent of them work in agriculture.
“If the country, by and large, fails to pay critical attention to the bad signals, the majority of our children would be wiped out due to the precarious nature of agriculture,” he added. Mr Kareweh said as a national issue I would demand an immediate and drastic intervention and joint effort from the government, Organized Labour, the various CSO, Agribusinesses, security agencies and the entire Global Community to achieve goal 8.7 – to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, which form a key pillar of Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said GAWU was poised to continue engaging the government to ensure that good agricultural policies that guaranteed decent work for all in the sector were realised through partnership and worker centred policies.
“We, therefore, call on the government to increase investment in Agriculture to enable the country to produce enough food for its citizenry as a means of insulating the population from the full rigorous of the global crisis,” he added. He commended all farmers and workers and wished them a happy workers’ day and called on the Government to protect and promote the rights of workers within the sector.