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23.10.2005 Business & Finance

Barring workers from forming Trade Unions is Illegal

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Accra, Oct 23, GNA - The National Labour Commission said on Sunday that it was illegal for any employer to prevent workers from exercising their right to form trade unions, even if such employers operate in the industrial free zones.

In a statement signed by Mr Joseph Bapuuroh, Executive Secretary, the Commission said employers did not have the power to prevent or grant workers permission before they form trade unions. Besides, employers have no right to compel their employees to join a particular trade union.

The Commission has therefore expressed concern about the practice of some employers, who prevent their workers from forming trade unions for the promotion and protection of their economic and social rights.

The Commission said such refusal to grant workers the right to form Unions contravenes the provisions of the new Labour Act 2003 and also constitute a breach of workers' fundamental right to freedom of association as guaranteed in the constitution and recognized by the International Labour Organisation.

The new Labour Act 2003 (Act 651), Section 79 gives the right to two or more workers in the same undertaking to form a trade union. "In the face of these constitutional and statutory provisions, it is illegal for any employer, even if it operates in the industrial free zone, to act in any way as to prevent workers from exercising their right to form trade unions," the Commission said.

The Commission said while some workers in an enterprise could either choose not to join a trade union those who decide otherwise should have no impediments placed on their way.

The Commission said it was aware of allegations that workers in some enterprises have had their appointments terminated by their employers for attempting to form trade unions.

"Such actions, if they are true constitute unfair labour practice, violate the Labour Law, and employers engaging in such practices must stop forthwith," the statement added.

The Commission asked workers in such enterprises to report such infringement on their rights to it for investigation and necessary actions. However, the Commission urged workers who had formed a union to notify their employers out of courtesy and in promoting partnership at the workplace.