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02.09.2005 General News

Labour Commission receives about 170 complaints


Accra, Sept. 2, GNA - The National Labour Commission (NLC), inaugurated by President John Kufuor last April, has as at July 31, 2005, received a total of 169 complaints from individuals and unionised workers.

Topping the list of complaints are 54 unfair termination of appointments; 49 dismissals; eight cases each of non-payment of daily minimum wage and social security contributions; seven cases of non-payment of severance awards and 43 miscellaneous cases.

Mr Joseph Aryitey, Chairman of the Commission, announced the figures in Accra at a press conference on Friday to throw light on the work of the Commission. The Commission operates under the Labour Act, Act 651, 2003.

Of the cases brought before the Commission, 29 have been completely settled, 22 are about to be settled and 68 are under investigation and about 50 are awaiting response.

Mr Aryitey said the Commission had also successfully mediated in a dispute between the Management of Societ=E9 G=E9n=E9rale-Social Security Bank and the Senior Staff Association following a deadlock in their negotiations and the Management's complaint that they had engaged in unfair labour practice of wearing red arm bands and threatening to go on strike.

The Law became enforceable on March 31, 2004, to regulate industrial relations practice and for the promotion of a harmonious relations environment.

The Commission was formed as a result of collaborative efforts of the Government, the Ghana Employers' Association and organised labour over a period of 10 years to create a new and flexible industrial relations regime that would attract both local and foreign investment for wealth creation.

Mr Aryitey said the Commission received complaints from workers, trade unions and employers or employers' organisations on industrial disagreements, and allegations of infringement of any requirement of the Act and Regulations.

The Commission has powers to require an employer or trade union to furnish it with information and statistics on the employment of its workers and the terms and conditions of their employment in a form and manner the Commission considers necessary.

The NLC is, therefore, neither pro-labour nor pro-employer, Mr Aryitey said adding: "The Commission exists to secure the rights of both workers and employers in the discharge of their respective obligations. "In the case of any default or irregularity under the Act, it can direct employers, organisations or workers, and trade unions to rectify such wrong."

As a quasi-judicial body charged with the strict observance of the provisions under the Labour Act, Mr Aryitey said the Commission was vested with powers and privileges of a High Court in respect of enforcing the attendance of witnesses.

It can compel the production of documents and can also issue a commission to examine witnesses abroad in the settlement of industrial disputes and enforcement of its orders.

Mr Aryitey said the Commission had held workshops for reporters and editors to equip them with the requisite knowledge to discharge their educational responsibilities in respect of the Labour Law. A similar workshop had been held for High Court Judges.

Mr Aryitey said the Commission had, however, not compiled a database of mediators and arbitrators because of logistics. It had meanwhile identified four personalities, who were knowledgeable in industrial relations and the Labour Law, who are currently being used in the handling of mediation cases that had appeared before the Commission, he said.

He reminded Ghanaians of the arduous road that had been travelled for about 10 years, since 1993 before the Law was passed, saying that it was a product of compromises.

"Provided it is judiciously applied, we can only find wisdom in compliance. Early rushes to breaches may poison an otherwise desired labour landscape and hurt not only the immediate parties to a dispute but even others remotely concerned."