Cemetery workers at the La Cemetery are calling on the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, to as a matter of urgency, place them on payroll to enable them have a reasonable standard of living.
The labourers, who have been working in the cemetery, keeping it clean and digging graves, claim they have been working for many years now without being placed on a regular income.
One of the labourers, Raphael Lartey, who spoke to a group of student journalists at La in Accra, expressed worry that they are paid only GH¢ 20.00 for a grave.
“We are not on any payroll; the money we get is GHC 20.00 per grave and this 20 we get, we have to share it among ourselves, can you imagine? And we are sometimes about five people digging one grave.”
According to Lartey, since the cemetery work is the only work they do, they have no other option than to strain to manage that meagre amount ,”even though it is hard labour digging graves and keeping the cemetery.”
He also explained that, if there would be some extra money, it would come from the ‘tips’ of the families whose graves they dug, adding that, they also request for money sometimes for extra work like tomb renovation.
“Some of us have been working here for the past six years or more, we have wives and children and other responsibilities,” he stressed.
Lartey indicated that they even sometimes go home empty handed.
Lartey said, the labourers together sent a petition to the local Assembly to put them on a regular salary, but they have still not heard from them yet.
He said, they have specifically lodged complaints to the Sexton, one David Dangmaa, who is the Head Officer at the cemetery, but “he said they were working on it.”
When contacted, the Sexton, David Dangmaa, explained that the labourers are not directly employed by the government and that they work at the cemetery out of their own free will.
He said his outfit had now presented a memo to the local assembly to consider employing them so that they can be paid monthly, stressing, they are still working on the request.
“Until it has been finalised, I have no authority to employ them,” he said.
By Nancy Sarfoaa Sarkodee
Ghana Institute of Journalism