Marwako – A Look Into Ghana’s Labour Camps

We commend the government of Ghana and the institutions of state for their swift response to the recent incident that occurred at the Marwako restaurant.

We believe the handling of this case will be a test case; as to whether the laws of this country are crafted to protect its citizen or not. It will also give working Ghanaians an idea as to the value the state places on their labour and general contribution to the national economy.

This case will remain an indisputable signal from the State to business owners and employers – both local and foreign – as to the working conditions and treatments permissible to be meted out to employees.

While it cannot be condemned enough the reprehensible treatment meted out to Evelyn Boakye, an employee of Marwako, we believe the only tranquiliser capable of letting sleeping dogs lie on her particular case will be an unquestionable outcome of justice being done and been seen to be done in the prosecution of the matter.

However, the aftermath and revelation from the Marwako incident has again released the often bottled genie of horrible terms and conditions of work in most places of employment in the country.

The 25-year old Evelyn Boakye, who works for several hours each day, mostly on her feet in this restaurant, earns only a pitiable sum of GH¢300.00 after a whole months work.

This was to come with the dehumanising treatment she was given; an incident which is purportedly not an isolated one of its kind but rather a hushed phenomenon in that particular work place and many others around the country.

This in the least is absolutely heart-breaking and most painful for citizens to live in their country as though they are slaves. The worse of it all is that most Ghanaians, safe to say over 78%, live in this state of abject deprivation and need, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse.

While we bemoan and decry such heinous acts of economic exploitation meted out to the Ghanaian people, it must be said that our laws and the general economic environment created by our governments is the prime cause of such injustices.

While production led economies keep wages low in order to achieve export advantage, which goes to benefit the larger populace, we have a service led economy in Ghana, with a virtually comatose manufacturing sector, still keeping a very meagre minimum wage policy.

As such, when victims such as Evelyn Boakye are earning such paltry sums, it’s because the government itself has set the national minimum wage at a deplorable GH? 237.6 for a month of toil for every working day.

The meaning of this is that the average Ghanaian worker cannot rent a place of abode. Neither can they afford proper nutrition, not to talk of luxuries such as good clothing or other social comforts. So the next time you see a Ghanaian on the streets in worn-out clothing, looking dishevelled and haggardly, it’s not out of ignorance or choice, but rather the stark economic prison they have been forced into by the very state which is supposed to be in charge of their welfare.

Do you then wonder why people scramble for party t-shirts and food, as well as other items of convenience during political elections? It’s as though our people have been kept in a labour camps without defined walls.

We understand that her attacker is a Ghanaian by birth although he has Lebanese parentage. But the shock that greeted the assault nonetheless entrench a widely-held public view that Ghanaian employees suffer dehumanising treatment from Lebanese.

Kate Tutu

Social Entrepreneur,Business Consultant, Editor of Feint & Margin, a young woman who's passionate about Africa's people and development.