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12.12.2005 Regional News

Labour unrests stem from ignorance of Labour Act - Aryitey

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Accra, Dec. 12, GNA - Mr Joseph Aryitey, Chairman of the National Labour Commission, on Monday said despite the existence of the Commission and the mechanisms for the settlement of industrial disputes, the labour scene has been turbulent. He said various factors, including inadequate knowledge of the Labour Act by workers, account for the frequent strike actions.

Mr. Aryitey was speaking at a day's workshop on the new labour law for members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Manpower and Employment organised by the Commission. The Chairman of the Commission said some workers have had to resort to numerous strike actions because of the "slow pace of adjustment to the demands of the new law by some employers that has driven workers to desperation to ignore the statutory provisions on labour dispute settlement...." "In any case the Commission has been quick to declare such strikes as illegal. Unfortunately, our actions are being interpreted variously. In one breath it is seen as a demonstrations of anti-worker bias and not showing concerns for their exploitation by employers."

"In another, it is viewed as wanting to create a false sense of a peaceful labour scene that must not be disturbed in our bid to attract investment." He said: "interestingly, the Commission's declaration that unionisation of workers in enterprise is a fundamental human right is looked at as an incitement to workers by some employers. " Mr Aryitey said the Commission saw public education on the Labour Law and advocacy on a continuing basis as a tool to combat the "ignorance and lack of understanding that is responsible for industrial actions." "We need to point out that the absence of industrial peace results in colossal losses to the economy and loss of jobs with its attendant increase in the crime rate. "It also undermines the well-being of the people. Collectively these constitute a national security threat", he said.

Dr Fritz Gockel, Lecturer in Economics at the University of Ghana, who spoke on the overview of the general economic situation and the importance of the labour market, said about 90 per cent of the total labour force could be found in the informal sector. He said a major reason for strike actions was that everybody was agitating for a bigger share of the national cake and until Ghana increased its growth rate it was going to be impossible to satisfy everybody.