The government has initiated processes to lift the ban on the export of labour to countries in the Gulf Region, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has stated.
He said proposals for bilateral agreements for the lifting of the moratorium had been presented to the Attorney-General’s Department for scrutiny before it would be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval.
“Currently, we are developing bilateral agreements with countries in the Gulf Region because some of them have brought proposals for better labour relations. But we have forwarded the proposals to the Attorney-General’s Department.
“Given the work that has been done so far, I believe that when a memoir is sent to the Cabinet, it will be approved so that the ban can be lifted to enable us to send some of our labour to other countries,” he said.
Mr Awuah made this known when he spoke to journalists at a two-day job fair organised by the German Development Co-operation and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in Accra on Monday.
The job fair formed part of the Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (MAC), an initiative to tackle unemployment among the youth which has been identified as a major cause of irregular migration of the youth to the Gulf countries.
Scores of unemployed youth are participating in the job fair that will see about 100 of them get ready employment, while others will also be trained in entrepreneurial development and linked with industry players.
Present at the fair were representatives of the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA), the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), as well as ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
In July last year, the government placed a ban on the export of local labour to countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar because of widespread reports of maltreatment of Ghanaians in those countries.
Some of the migrants, who were mostly females, were made to do caretaking and service jobs, during which some of them were subjected to all forms of maltreatment, leading to loss of lives in some cases.
Mr Awuah observed that even though bilateral agreements were being considered towards the lifting of the ban, the government would not compromise the safety of Ghanaian workers both locally and abroad.
“We believe in the dignity of Ghanaian workers in the country and in other parts of the world, so we will ensure that they are accorded decent work ethics, dignity and decency in line with International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) standards,” he stressed.
Consolidated Bank brouhaha
Touching on the laying off of some workers by the Consolidated Bank, Mr Awuah said he would engage officials of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and other key stakeholders this week, to look at the plan for workers of the bank, who were reportedly being laid off, following the merger of five local banks.
“I will meet officials of the BoG, the Consolidated Bank, worker unions and other relevant stakeholders this week to think about what should be done.
“My duty will be to get information on the way forward from the horse’s own mouth on what the labour plans are for the Consolidated Bank. If there is the need for any labour restructuring, I would want to know how it will be done to ensure that no one is unfairly treated,” he said.
The German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Christoph Retslaff, in his remarks, reiterated the commitment of the German Government to support Ghana to create more employment opportunities for the youth.
He said efforts would be made to support the country to implement initiatives that would help achieve the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda.
“One of the big challenges for this country that has to be tackled is the high rate of unemployment, especially among the youth, since it is sparking the transnational migration of young people,” he said.