Employers express worry about COVID-19 third wave

Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive Officer of the GEA

… GEA urges members to support gov’t break chain at workplace

The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) is extremely worried about the surge in COVID-19 cases, as their analysis has shown that the effect on jobs, if a new lockdown is introduced, would be direr than that of the first wave.

According to the GEA, the worry is born out of the fact that many businesses are yet to recover from the first wave which led to a three-week national lockdown; and therefore if the recent wave is not controlled and spirals out of control, there would be catastrophic effect on businesses and jobs – especially the small and medium enterprises sector.

According to the 2020 Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey results, 770,000 workers had their wages reduced and 42,000 workers were laid-off during Ghana’s COVID-19 partial lockdown.

Speaking to the B&FT in an interview, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEA, Alex Frimpong, noted that these figures can double if care is not taken to break the pace of spread in the third wave.

“Don’t forget that with what happened last year we have not been able to recover fully. So if this one, given our woes, intensifies – then the story will be far different. We believe that we need to spend a lot of time, energy and resources on how we can stop the chain of infection so we can contain spread of the virus in the country. That is the only way we can come out of this unhurt,” Mr. Frmpong said.

He added that the association is putting in measures to find out how its members can continue their operations amid the third wave, to ensure that the pandemic does not further wreak havoc on businesses and disturb economic recovery.

“When you talk to business people, the main preoccupation is how we can work together with government and the authorities to reduce impacts from the pandemic’s spread. No matter the operational plans we put in place, if the pandemic still exists and strains the economy it will take more time for recovery,” Mr. Frimpong intimated.

He told this Paper that the GEA has through its members asked that all staff be made ambassadors of change in the various communities, so they can preach the protocols and persuade others to follow.

“In the workplace, in the communities and the country as a whole, we have to make our employees ambassadors. Managers are worried that no matter how strictly they enforce the protocols at the workplace, if the community and country are not safe then no worker is safe.

“This will require that we intensity our education: that is, sensitisation of both workers and their families; and most importantly to make sure there is strict observance of the various protocols that have been put in place – including social distancing, wearing face masks, and use of sanitisers,” Mr. Frmpong added.

For him, one of the things that would ensure some business activities are not curtailed by the pandemic is the ability of many businesses to empower their staff to work from home and be efficient.

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