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22.12.2005 Regional News

New labour law poses major challenge to trade unions - Amankwah

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Accra, Dec. 22, GNA - Mr Kwesi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), on Wednesday said the passing of the new Labour Act 651 poses a major challenge of unity to the entire trade union movement in the country.

He said provisions on freedom of association as contained in the Act, which provides for trade union pluralism, had the potential to undermine the unity of the TUC and its affiliate unions. Mr Adu-Amankwah was speaking at the 10th Annual Ghana TUC/Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) interaction in Accra.

The meeting, which brought together top officials of the TUC and journalists from both the print and electronic media, was to strengthen the existing relation between the two institutions.

He urged workers to utilise internal democratic processes within their unions and the TUC to settle their differences. He welcomed the establishment of the National Labour Commission (NLC) but however, expressed concern about a growing phenomenon where state institutions have been bypassing the NLC to intervene in industrial disputes.

"The Ghana TUC wishes to stress the need for proper procedures and the expeditious attentions to matters affecting workers, if industrial harmony is be achieved," Mr Adu-Amankwah stated.

He expressed the TUC's concern about a "raw deal" that has been meted out to workers of the defunct Ghana Airways by the authorities, leading to a court action by a section of the workers to seek redress. Mr Adu-Amankwah said Organised Labour has strongly tabled the need for a living wage in the country and as such both the employers and government have accepted the need to achieve that target.

"There can be no compromise in the demand for a living wage, especially in this era of cost recovery and removal of subsidies," he held, adding that every worker must be able to earn a living from the work he diligently performs.

Mr Bright Blewu, General Secretary of the GJA also expressed concern about the irresponsible conduct and arrogance on the part of some journalists, saying their attitude had led the court to impose heavy fines on them.

He said the courts were part of the country's democratic process and as such people must appreciate their role and not castigate unduly to undermine their authority.