The Future of Work Capsules: Decent work and economic growth for the African Region – (two)

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Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)

As the World celebrates the contribution of women this March, I take this opportunity to also congratulate all women in Ghana, Africa and in the world. A world where we invest in girls and women looks prosperous, more economically stable and full of healthy mothers and newborns. To reduce poverty in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa, women must be allowed to become key decision-makers.

This is because, women and girls are critical to achieving all the global goals.  The smartest thing to do as a nation and or continent is to invest in women and girls. Let’s all start supporting women in our own small ways. An African proverb has it that; one can’t be on both side at the same time, you are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. Let’s be purposive in our approach to being part of the solution. Let’s lift ourselves together also as women and girls.

It helps us grow and it’s the healthiest and smartest thing to do. Create a workable plan to helping you train, mentor, coach and or set at least one woman up between now and next year. The rippling effect is that, in all we will be consciously changing our continent to becoming the kind of world we all desire. It is possible. It is doable. Be the change you envision to be and or see.

Last week, I commenced the part one of decent work and economic growth for the African region.

From the United Nations Economic and Social Council, I virtually joined the hybrid 7th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development held from Congo Brazzaville from Monday March 1-4, 2021. This was convened under the theme “Building forward better: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.” The background papers on decent work and economic growth; progress report on sustainable development goal 8 in Africa submitted by the International Labour Organization caught my attention. Let’s discuss the progress made as reported by the ILO.

 

The ILO’s 14th African Regional Meeting held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from December 3-6, 2019 had governments, employers’ and workers’ delegates from 49 African countries commit to the Abidjan Declaration – “Advancing social justice: shaping the future in Africa”. This call for a human centered approach to the future of work conversation was to unleash the potential of Africa for inclusive growth and create a future of work with social justice. This declaration was building on the ILO’s Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work which calls for dedicated actions on some five (5) priorities for the African Region.

  1. Making decent work a reality for Africa’s youth, developing skills, technological pathways and productivity for a brighter future in Africa, transforming Africa’s informal and rural economy for decent work, and respecting international labour standards, promoting social dialogue and ensuring gender equality;
  2. Strengthening the capabilities of all people to benefit from opportunities of a changing world of work.
  3. Strengthening the efficiency of the institutions of work to ensure adequate protection of all workers
  4. Promoting inclusive and suitable economic development and growth, full and productive freely chosen employment and decent work for all;
  5. Strengthening synergies between ILO and institutions in Africa, namely the African Union Commission, regional economic communities, and the three labour and administration training centers.

The priority areas are just five for now but are very dense and demanding. The conversation on decent work is introduced here again and respect for international labour standards added. How are we as a country implementing the ratified ILO conventions? “Knowing and not doing, is not knowing” they say. We need to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring these ratified conventions are respected.

Ghana has since May 20, 1957 been a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and has ratified a number of the ILO’s convention. What really does it mean to say a country has ratified an ILO convention?

According to the ILO, “Ratification is a sovereign act of a member State of the ILO expressing the State’s intention to be bound by the terms of an international labour Convention. Protocols can be ratified together with the Convention with which they are associated or after the ratification of that Convention”. To date, Ghana has ratified 51 ILO conventions.  Out of the 51 Conventions ratified by Ghana, 37 are in force, 10 Conventions have been denounced; 4 instruments abrogated; none have been ratified in the past 12 months. The 51 conventions ratified include the fundamental, governance and technical conventions.  The country ratified all 8 Fundamental Conventions, 2 out of 4 Governance Conventions (priority) and 41 out of 178 Technical Conventions.  The 8 Fundamental conventions ratified include; C029 – Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) since 20 May 1957, C087 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), since 02 Jun 1965, C098 – Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98), since 02 Jul 1959, C100 – Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), since 14 Mar 1968, C105 – Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) since 15 Dec 1958, C111 – Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), since 04 Apr 1961, C138 – Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Minimum age specified: 15 years, since 06 Jun 2011, and C182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182), since 13 Jun 2000.

From the Governance (Priority) Convention we see convention number 081 { C081 }- Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81) – Since 02 Jul 1959 and C144 – Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144) since 06 Jun 2011 are ratified. However, C122 – Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122)            12 Aug 1996  and C129 – Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (No. 129) – since 09 Dec 1997 are not ratified by Ghana.

Notable among the Technical conventions ratified includes, C148 – Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention, 1977, C149 – Nursing Personnel Convention, 1977 (No. 149), C151 – Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 (No. 151)   , C184 – Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)          06 Jun 2011, MLC, 2006 – Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) among others.

Other priority areas on the Abidjan declaration are calling for strengthening of the capabilities of all people to benefit from opportunities of a changing world of work and strengthening the efficiency of the institutions of work to ensure adequate protection of all workers. Are our workers protected as a country? Are employee’s take home pay really able to take them home? It appears, some employees pretend to work as some employers also pretend to pay. Workers protection must be top on the government’s agenda. The issue of targeting with Covid-19 relief intervention has been the major discussion point around this topic since its publication. The ministry in charge of this relief should review some targeting proposal on intervention management and be guided accordingly. Partisan politicization of these interventions will not support the situation as most  businesses are already ailing due to the covid-19 pandemic, let’s be agile.

The ILO framework for tackling economic and social impact of the Cocvid-19 crisis issued in May 2020 has organized its key policy messages and recommendations on four (4) pillars to responding to the pandemic. Pillar one, is calling for stimulation of the economy and employment, supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes, protecting workers in the workplace as well as relying on social dialogue for solutions respectively.

Unemployment rates are largely low on the African continent because of low household incomes coupled with limited social safety net driving many to just accept any kind of job just to be able to make a living with the exception of middle-income countries in Southern and North Africa. According to the ILO report, Women are generally far worse than men, in terms of vulnerable employment and both unemployment with a significant proposition of college and university graduates struggling to find formal jobs.

The rate of young people in Africa not in education, employment or training is estimated to be 20.7%. This means that, 1 in 5 young Africans neither have a job nor are participating in education or training. In the year 2020 alone, the ILO estimates 12.4 million young people were unemployed in Africa with 53.5 million not in education, employment or training. This number is estimated to increase as a result of the Covid-29 pandemic. This is because the disruptions experienced due to pandemic caused schools, universities, colleges of education, technical and vocational universities and institutions of training and education to close down temporary.

On Child labour, the report highlighted that “Child labour remains a stubborn challenge on the African continent. Child labour has many characteristics, including forced labour, prostitution and work in mining, agriculture and small family businesses. The 2016 global estimates of child labour show that 20% of all African children are involved in child labour, a figure which is more than twice as high than in any other region. Furthermore, 9% of African children are in hazardous work, the highest such proportion anywhere in the world. In absolute numbers, 72.1 million African children are estimated to be in child labour, while 31.5 million are in hazardous work. On the African continent, the agricultural sector contributes about 85% to total child labour statistics, which in absolute terms means 61.4 million children. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened economic fragilities, especially given that most of the workforce is in the informal economy with limited social safety nets”

As a result of the considerable modifications in the world of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, and the related Abidjan Declaration for Africa have increased in relevance and should continue to guide Member States work towards SDG 8. Hence, there is need for African Governments to continue in their commitment to implement these declarations and their objectives. COVID-19, the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, and fast-tracking the digitalization of economies will create scope for African Governments to rethink and prioritize the creation of youth employment”.

Look no further for support in navigating your way through in management, policy design and assessment of soft skills as a vital trend for the future. FoReal HR Services is available to offer professional business support in this regards. Write to us today [email protected] Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313. We are available virtually as well.

By Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)

Baptista is a Hybrid Professional. As a human resource professional, she holds a broad generalist background. Building a team of efficient & effective workforce is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is an HR Generalist, strategic planner, innovative, professional connector and a motivator. You can reach her via e-mail on [email protected]  You can follow this conversation on Linked-In: Baptista Sarah Gebu and on twitter @SarahTista.  Call or WhatsApp: +233(0)262213313/ 0243213313.  Follow the hashtag #theFutureofWorkCapsules #FoWC

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