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02.05.2008 General News

TUC Urges Parties To Ensure Peaceful Polls

By Samuel Amoako - newtimesonline.com

THE acting Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Kofi Asamoah, says it is the expectation of organised labour that political parties, the Electoral Commission (EC) and all stakeholders in the forthcoming elections will exhibit political soberness, maturity, fairness and transparency in the electoral process.

'We demand of the competing parties and their presidential candidates, serious debates over the main issues of our times, a clear vision of the future of Ghana and concrete policy alternatives that have the capacity to transform our economy and lift our people out of quagmire of mass poverty,' he said.

He was speaking at the May Day celebration at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday.

Mr Asamoah said that democracy entails the respect for human rights and rule of law among others and said the TUC will continue to oppose and resist all policies and actions that would encourage violation of human and workers’ rights, media censorship, interference in the judiciary, tribalism and sectionalism.

As the December general election approaches, he said, it was incumbent on the EC to maintain its independence and called on the government to resource the commission adequately to carry out its mandate effectively.

He said the recent discovery of significant discrepancies in the Voters Register in some constituencies in the Ashanti Region should be a wake-up call to the EC to ensure that it wins the confidence of Ghanaians as an impartial referee in the political game. The acting TUC Secretary-General expressed concern about lack of employment and job security and pointed out that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention 158 specifically requires an employer to provide valid reasons for terminating the appointment of a worker.

He said recent developments on the labour scene, especially the verdict of an Accra Fast Track High Court that an employer can terminate the appointment of an employee without giving any reason, have the tendency of undermining the compromise reached in various tripartite meetings that led to the passage of the Labour Law.

Mr Asamoah said it was the expectation of organised labour that the ongoing pay reforms will lead to an enhancement of public sector earnings.

Admitting that there has been an increase in public sector pay in recent times, he said it was done from a very low base which makes the public worker lose grounds against his counterparts in the private sector.

He also talked about the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union and said organised labour was disappointed that the government has signed the interim agreement.

Taking into account Ghana’s clout in the West Africa sub-region, he said it was important for the government to be circumspect and work in partnership with other countries in the region to ensure the protection of sub-regional interests.

Mr Asamoah expressed organised labour’s happiness about the oil find in the country and the consultations that have been held on it, but urged the government to involve civil society groups, including the trades unions, in such consultations.

He expressed the TUC’s concern about the rights and working conditions of workers who will be employed by the oil producing companies and the rights of people in the communities where the oil has been discovered and urged the government to put in place the necessary regulations to ensure the oil producing companies provide conducive conditions for their employees and the communities.

'We also expect that the oil producing companies will ensure that their employees do their jobs under safe and healthy conditions and they are paid living wages,' he said.

The acting Secretary-General of the TUC assured of the union’s continuous contribution to the deepening of democracy in the country.

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