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20.07.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Ghanair-Gov't, NLC And Hungry Worker

Chronicle

The workers of the national airline, Ghana Airways, last Wednesday at a press conference in Accra, called on the Government to play by the labour rules of the land, especially with regards to dealings with the National Labour Commission (NLC).

The workers had accused the government of disregarding the on-going negotiations platform, and unilaterally deciding on an official liquidation of the airline, even as an impasse between the parties had been sent to the NLC for arbitration.

The President swore the NLC into office just this year.

And looking at its mandate, there is no doubt that it is meant to stabilize and promote harmonious relationship among all stakeholders involved in productivity in the country.

Considering the limitations the new labour laws place on workers' indiscriminate strike actions and other forms of agitations, there is no doubt that employers would not be facing too many pressures from workers. The laws protect also the rights of workers.

However, the laws notwithstanding, before this harmonious environment could be established at the workplace, there is the need for all parties to have confidence in the NLC, as not only having the ability to bare its teeth, to ensure that the right things are done, but also to bite when necessary.

The recourse to arbitration by the Unionized workers of Ghana Airways gives the NLC its first real test, as until then, no Labour Union had gone to seek redress from it. It is largely expected therefore, that the manner in which this matter would be handled, would send signals to all stakeholders whether the change in the labour laws would achieve the desired results or not.

The Commission would need the co-operation of parties involved in disputes to be able to perform creditably, to avert confrontations. Any negative attitude of Government towards the Commission, as reported by the Ghanair staff would have grave implications for the nation. Apart from it undermining the authority of the NLC, it would also undermine investor confidence in how secure the labour environment is.

If indeed, the allegations by the Ghana Airways workers are anything to go by, then it is very unfortunate. Nonetheless, it is not too late for government to right what has gone wrong, since that would go a long way in strengthening the hands of the NLC, to pursue a sound labour environment.

Even in venting their frustrations and crying for support for their cause, Ghana Airways staff are reminding government also of the Report of a forensic audit, it had conducted and its recommendations.

The Chronicle does not believe that the reports of the numerous audits carried out at the instance of government were just for decorative purposes, or giving jobs to the auditors involved.

The only way to justify the several hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on these audits, would be if findings of untoward conduct are properly investigated, and publicized, so as to prevent recurrence.

This must of course be done, after persons, cited to have acted without much prudence, have been given the opportunity to respond to the charges against them, and not, as have occurred in several instances, where such findings could not stand any critical scrutiny.

Government may have taken an irreversible stance on the future of the national airline, but in doing that, it must not leave a mess around, much less frustrated and hungry workers!

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