The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Tuesday spelt out its industrial relations agenda, saying it would invest more in 'genuine social dialogue and collective bargaining' to ensure that peaceful industrial relations and the orderly and speedy settlement of disputes were achieved.
The NDC said it must be given the credit for initiating the major law reform process to overhaul, update and codify the country's labour legislations culminating in the passage of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).
“With the passage of the Act the expectation of all the social partners was that the necessary flexibility will be injected into the labour market and that industrial relations will move away from the fire-fighting model to a more proactive system aided solidly by bipartite and tripartite co-operation and collaboration,” Mr John Mahama, vice presidential candidate of the party said in an address to civil servants and other labour unions in Accra.
He said an NDC-led government would work with organized labour and other social partners to actualize the vision of the Labour Act and to deepen, refine and fine-tune its provisions, if necessary, to give it more impetus and vitality.
On the National Labour Commission (NLC), he said the party was aware of the difficulties it faced such as, inadequate budgetary allocation and human resource constraint; the limitation on its ability to enforce legitimate labour decisions for instance, on the arbitrary termination of appointment of workers.
Mr Mahama said there will be minimum delay in establishing the full complement, both in quality and quantity, of commissioners of the NLC and employees, pointing out that the present situation, where there was only one legal expert serving on the commission was grossly unacceptable.
“The establishment of structures of the Commission at the Regional level will receive early attention and will be carried out in phases.”
Mr Mahama noted that the District structures will take a while to establish due to the expected large financial and human resource commitments the exercise will require.
“Just as the NDC found time-tested mechanisms during its tenure, to alleviate extreme difficulties associated with the funding of education, road construction and maintenance, and export development so shall it find the means to help the NLC resource itself to enable it exert its independence and deliver on its mandate without fear or favour.”
On a strategic public sector wage policy, Mr Mahama said, in line with its social democratic ideology the NDC was committed to social justice, equity and the constitutional principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
It would therefore work expeditiously with labour towards the formulation and adoption of an agreement on a strategic wage policy framework covering all labour groups in the public sector.
“While taking on board as appropriate the new reforms initiated by the NPP government, we will ensure the introduction of a unified single spine salary structure for all workers in the public sector.”
Mr Mahama said an NDC government would “promote a new order of salary administration whose hallmark shall be rationality, consistency, equity, social justice and the constitutional principle of equal pay for work of equal value”.
He said the party was committed to the setting of minimum daily wage as a way of providing a safety net for the vulnerable and a guide to employers.
“The ultimate aspiration of our party, indeed, is to achieve a living wage for working people. The inability of the economy to meet this commitment has always been cited as the black spot.
“I do not believe that this country is too poor to meet this commitment if we manage our resources in a more rational manner and pick our priorities right.
“The NDC shall do well to harness revenues from cocoa, gold, and non-traditional value added exports as well as the anticipated oil export to motivate workers to increase productivity and grow the economy for the benefit of all.”
On Housing, the NDC said available data indicated that the housing deficit was in excess of 500,000 units, whilst housing supply growth varied between 25,000 and 40,000 units per annum, against annual requirements of about 100,000.
He said the NDC intended to introduce a number of interventions that will accelerate shelter provision, particularly for low-income earners.
These include granting of tax credits and other incentives for private estate developers who would explore the production and use of improved local materials and appropriate technology in the built industry to bring down the cost of buildings.