Why I Disagree With Lawyer Francis-Xavier Sosu

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As an economy in transition, and we cannot afford to lose the cow that gives us milk today, this line of argument, is what people like Francis-Xavier Sosu, seem to be propounding, in the face of the present danger facing workers in the country.

The question is, should we put investments over and above the lives and security of citizens?

Cases of high handedness, and even the shootings of agitating workers, by their expatriate bosses, have assumed rampant proportions, unfortunately the occurrence, is rampant with Chinese firms in the country.

Not too long ago, a study of Chinese firms’ activities in Africa, with focus on the industrial relations sphere was conducted by the African Labour Researchers Network (ALRN), a few years back. Similarly the Building Workers International (BWI) also commissioned Herbert Jauch of the Namibian workers’ research institute LaRRI to assess Chinese construction firms’ roles in West Africa.

These two studies confirmed the concrete reality of Chinese industrialists, managers and unskilled workers highhandedness against workers in Africa, including the frustration of union presence within their establishments, as much as they can.

In Ghana, we have always been at their mercy, because laws governing how workers, should be treated are not enforced.

In 2010, workers of China Jiangxi International and Technical Cooperation (CJIC) engaged on the Akatsi-Tadzewu-Dzodze- Akanu road,had to raise their voices against the nature of inhuman way they are treated and over-worked against the extant labour laws of the country.

The workers accused management of wrongful and frequent dismissals, under payment, failure to provide them with safety gadgets and refusal to pay compensation to workers who died or suffered permanent disabilities on duty.

The firms merely respond that, the allegation was not true, and no further investigation was carried out.

In 2015, Sentuo Steel Company in Tema, was also in the news for all the wrong reasons. According to a worker who narrated his ordeal, indigenous workers are been maltreated by Chinese workers.

He added that some workers were sacked from the company permanently because they were a minute late to work.

The case was reported to the labour union but it has fallen on deaf ears. He said management misled the Labour union that the lowest person at the company is paid 1,500 Ghana Cedis, but their monthly wages are not up to 400 Cedis per month.

In 2012, Today newspaper reported that Ghanaian workers at the China Geo Company (CGC), contractors working on the Sofoline Interchange in Kumasi, have announced another sit-down strike to press home their demands for salary increment in respect of the labour laws of the country.

The workers, who announced their decision to lay down their tools on Monday, March 12, 2012 stated categorically to management of the CGC that they will not rescind their decision until their outstanding salaries and allowances are duly paid them.

The workers, The Today gathered, argued that the Chinese company has for so long shown their Ghanaian counterparts gross disrespect “thinking they (the Chinese) can always take them for a ride.”

Again in 2008, workers at the Bui hydroelectric Power site called on Government, the Labour Commission, Trade Union Congress of Ghana (TUC), and the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to come to their aid, as the working conditions at the site were terrible.

The workers complained over poor working conditions such as inadequate salary, poor accommodation, transportation, lack of protective gear, poor safety and security measures, intimidation and sexual harassment on female workers by the Chinese.

Early this year, Citi FM, reported an incident, where an employee of the Peter pan Restaurant in Accra, was slapped with a piece of hot pizza, by her Korean employer, because she supervised a pizza that got burnt.

The latest incident that has started the conversation is a report of ill-treatment meted out to an employee of Gateway Logistics Limited in Takoradi, who was chained to a container by his Italian supervisor, Manlio Maggiorotto, for allegedly loitering around during working hours.

Which patriotic, progressive and forward thinking Ghanaian, will justify any of the scenarios outlined above.

As a lawyer, you have a duty to fight for the voiceless in society, you are supposed to be the emperor of the suffering masses, so imagine my shock when I heard a well acclaimed human right lawyer, Francis Xavier Sosu, on PM Express news analysis programme on Joy News Channel on Multi TV, when they were discussing inhumane treatment meted out to Ghanaian employees by their expatriate bosses.

He said “the lazy attitude of some workers in both private and public institutions is the cause of human right abuses meted out to some employees by their expatriate bosses”.

He went on further to say that “although some of the inhumane treatment of Ghanaian employees by their foreign employers must be condemned in no uncertain terms, the situation is usually an over-reaction by furious employers who cannot stand to see their investments whittle away due to the lax attitude of their staff”.

I think the lawyer’s attempt to explain away the problem is what I will rather see as a lazy approach.

There are really “bad employers…from everywhere”, considering the antagonistic interests of workers for increasing profits and workers for better wages. But it is a statement of fact that a pattern of hyper-repression of workers and wanton disregard, and indeed insulting of the sensibilities of workers and communities by Chinese firms can be established.

I was expecting to hear the lawyer advising the expatriates to assiduously work on reversing these trends that, is an insult to our hospitability.
Francis-Xavier Sosu, is a learned man, as they refer to themselves and so much is expected from him. As someone with a humble background, I wanted to hear him sharing in the sentiments of the underprivileged, but no, because his circumstances have changed, he has soon forgotten where he came from.

Nobody should try to rationalize or justify the behavior of these expatriates, in the 21st century, no human being, should be made to feel less of himself.

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