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A research conducted by Labour Research and Policy Institute of Trades Union Congress (TUC) yesterday revealed that there is an improvement in labour practices at the Bui Dam under construction by SinoHydro Corporation.
The study entitled, “Unions can make a difference: Ghanaian workers in a Chinese construction firm at the Bui Dam Site,” was a sequel to another study in 2008, which focused on the impact of Chinese investments in Africa and labour standards in Chinese enterprises in the country.
It was undertaken by the institute, in collaboration with the Africa Labour Research Network, a network of trade union researchers into labour-related issues with financial assistance from Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland.
Presenting the results, Mr Prince Asafu-Adjaye a member of the research team said the previous study, which was a comprehensive study in 10 countries, including Ghana, focused on the construction of Tamale and Essipong stadia in the country as well as the Bui Dam.
He said the widespread abuse of the rights of workers at those sites have been reported in that study.
He said since the Bui Dam was still under construction, the institute thought it prudent to conduct a review of the situation at the site, which is the largest Chinese investment in Ghana.
Mr Asafu-Adjaye explained that, there was a general improvement in the rights of workers attributable to the opportunities provided by unionisation.
“At the time of the first study, there were no unions and the study documented terrible labour relationship between Ghanaian workers and their Chinese employers.
“We have now observed an improvement in the relationship between the Chinese employers and the Ghanaian workers,” he added.
He noted that, the constitutional right in joining a union of choice was now being adhered to making a difference in the circumstance of workers engaged at the site.
The study relied on a combination of primary and secondary data, comparing conditions of labour in 2008, when the first study was undertaken, and conditions in 2012, when the current study was conducted.
Leaders of the workers at the dam site, together with officials of the SinoHydro Corporation and the Construction and Materials Workers Union, a member of the TUC, were interviewed.
Other areas studied were the collective bargaining agreements and other documents pertaining to the construction of the dam.
The report delved into issues such as the strength and weakness of Ghana-China diplomatic and economic relations and investments and Chinese development assistance to Ghana, as well as growing concerns of Chinese activities in the country, particularly in the mining sector.
It recommended that, the local union and the management of the corporation must work together to improve workers access to collective agreement.
“Upon recruitment, workers must be provided with copies of the collective agreements in addition to the employer’s booklet,” the report suggested.
It noted that, improvement in the relationship at the site should not be extended to other Chinese enterprises.
The report asked the Chinese Embassy and unions to cooperate to facilitate improved relations between Chinese enterprises and their Ghanaian workers and also relations between Ghana and China.”
Mr Antwi Boasiako- Boasiako, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations commended the TUC for the study and called on foreigners especially the Chinese to respect the regulations and laws of the land on which they have come to work and ensure harmonious working relationship among the two countries.
Mr Kofi Asamoah TUC Secretary General who co- launched the report with the Deputy Minister said it is the responsibility of government to ensure that the laws and regulations of the land are respected and adhered to.