COVID-19: DSWU begs gov’t for stimulus package for members

COVID-19: (DSWU) COVID-19: (DSWU)

By Gifty Arthur

Government, has been called upon to design a stimulus package for members of the Domestic Services Workers Union (DSWU) as the novel coronavirus continue to bite hard, it members dotted across the country, have indicated.

In a statement copied to The Herald, DSWU, said it members who are scattered mainly in Accra, Takoradi, Cape Coast and Koforidua, continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic because of the nature of their work, saying their members stand a greater risk of contracting the virus.

The chairperson, Eva Attakpah, said members have greatly been affected because according to them, their members are unable to offer the services they provide to homes due to the restrictions attached to the virus coupled with the safety protocols issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and government.

DSWU, which was also worried about the exploitation of Domestic Workers pleaded that government in the meantime grants them some stimulus package as well as an emergency legislation that will stop the exploitation of members at their work places.

The group said “Put in place a stimulus package for domestic workers and issue an emergency legislation that stops the exploitation of DWs while we work towards the ratification and adoption of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers”.

Below is the full statement………

The Domestic Services Workers’ Union has about 1,000 members in Accra, Takoradi, Cape Coast and Koforidua. The Union has had several discussions with its members to access the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. We would like to use this opportunity to shed more light on the plight of domestic workers in Ghana during this pandemic and call on government and other duty bearers to do more to address the issues affecting the members of the Union.

Impact of COVID-19 on Domestic Services Workers:

· Termination of contract: Due to the fact that Domestic Services Workers (DWs) stand a greater chance of contracting the virus as they commute daily to their workplaces, their contracts were terminated with the outbreak of COVID-19. This is because employers were afraid to expose their families to the infection. During the partial lockdown, live-out domestic workers could not easily travel within the same city to their workplaces. As a result, the employment contract of some of it members were terminated. Some also lost their incomes since they could not work during the period of the partial lockdown. No compensation has been paid to those who lost their jobs and most face the risk of falling into the poverty bracket.

· Domestic violence: Live-in domestic workers face increased abuse and uncompensated loads of labour, and sometimes violence. (Assault and harassment, sexual exploitation, physical abuse, denial of resources). In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, many of the live-in DWs are stuck with their employers and are also prevented from joining their families. They are denied their earnings, protective gear, and the rightful access to information about the virus, and healthcare services. They are working longer hours with pay cuts and no leave days.

· Lack of social protection measures: Most DWs do not contribute to social protection schemes. In Ghana, the third tier of the SSNIT pension scheme allows workers in the informal sector to contribute towards their pension. However, most domestic workers do not contribute to the scheme. Also, due to the informal nature (no employment contract), most employers of the domestic workers do not pay social security on behalf of the workers. This has worsened the plight of the domestic workers during this crisis era since most have lost their jobs and also do not have access to social protection.

· Loss of livelihood: DWs are struggling to pay for rent and other necessities such as food, medication, and protective gear due to loss of jobs and income. Whiles most of them have lost their jobs and some have suffered pay cuts, prices of food have also escalated due to shortages of food stuffs and panic buying from the general public with the onset of the virus. DWs find themselves ill-equipped to endure the pandemic in the absence of radical changes to their situation in the absence of support from government which can bring radical changes to their situation.

· The law does not oblige employers to pay the full salaries of DWs during the lockdown in Ghana and as a result most informal economy workers including domestic workers were not able to place claims through legal channels.

Our Call

We call on government to do the following:

· Put in place a stimulus package for domestic workers and issue an emergency legislation that stops the exploitation of DWs while we work towards the ratification and adoption of ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

·

Speed up processes towards the ratification and adoption of ILO Conventions 183 (Maternity Cover) and 190 (Violence and Harassment in the world of work).

Conclusion

To conclude, members of the Domestic Services Workers’ Union would like to use your respective media platforms to entreat the government to consider us in the stimulus package which was recently announced.

Issued by:

Domestic Services Workers’ Union

Signed: Eva Attakpah

Designation: Chairperson

Contact: 0244285343

Source: theheraldghana