Timber and Woodworkers Union concerned about exploitation of women in sector

The Timber and Woodworkers Union (TWU), on Friday expressed worry about the exploitation of women workers in the sector and called for measures to address the situation.

Mr Joshua Ansah, General Secretary, TWU, expressed the concern at a Gender Policy Restructuring Workshop for women in the Wood and Forestry Sectors at Akyem Oda.

He said: “In our sectors, there are many women in temporary or casual work involving irregular or unusual hours or hired on a contract or piece rate basis.”

Those women were paid less than men and normally not covered by labour and social security regulations or by collective agreements, Mr Ansah said.

“They generally continue to be regarded as unskilled even after they have worked in the industry for many years.”

Mr Ansah said women were still under-represented in the Union, making up about 20 percent and representing a small percentage in the decision making bodies of unions.

He said most of those women were unaware of their rights and did not understand how unions operated because they were poorly educated or often feared reprisals by employers.

Mr Ansah said though the TWU had chalked some successes over the years there was still more to be done to address the needs and priorities of women workers in the sectors.

He said it was against that background that the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) through its global programme was sponsoring the workshop to fulfil the gender equality dream of the sectors.

Mr Ansah urged the participants to join the campaign for the ratification of International Labour organization (ILO) Convention 183 on maternity protection.

He urged them to participate in the global activities on International Women’s Day and they should also focus activities on health and safety, women’s training and increase awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Mrs Teresa Nadia Abugah, Head of Women’s Desk, Trade Union Congress (TUC), said women were heavily underrepresented in decision-making structures of TWU.

She said to overcome barriers to women’s participation and to ensure that they were visible and active in all aspects of TWU, premium must be placed on promotion of gender equality programmes.

“What TWU perhaps could consider as a priority area is to exhaustively discuss gender challenges, and provide meaningful contributions that can help implement the current Gender Policy adopted at the last TUC Congress, to help effectively promote women participation into the structures of TWU”.

She therefore recommended among other things the need to develop non-discriminatory educational programmes that benefit both men and women, which would ultimately contribute to more equal relationships between women and men.

Mr Paul Ninson, Acting Eastern Regional Industrial Relations Officer, said the workshop had come at the right time when women were facing many challenges at their workplaces and challenged the participants to make efforts towards gender integration.

He appealed to the Government to resource Timber firms to go into serious afforestation programmes to help replenish the degraded forests.

The two-day workshop was on the theme: “Addressing the needs and priorities of women workers in our sectors and seek to integrate them in existing Trade Union structures.”

Source: GNA

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