The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress, TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah has supported calls to resource and retool the National Labour Commission (NLC) to effectively execute its mandate of providing legal representation for labour in the event of industrial disputes. He said the main challenges of the commission are related to finances, human resource and logistics.
“You cannot have an effective National Labour Commission with only one lawyer dealing with all cases from all parts of Ghana; it’s simply not right,” he emphasised.
Dr. Baah who was interacting with the media at an Organised Labour Policy Forum with the National Labour Commission said the commission needs more lawyers, more industrial relations officers, other human resource personnel, as well as offices across the country.
Alluding to government’s flagship programme, “One Disrtict, One Factory,” Dr. Baah indicated that “if indeed we are going to have one-district-one-factory, what it means is that there will be more disputes; and if there will be more disputes, it is important that we have offices in all the districts to deal with these disputes.”
Dr. Baah further stressed that the poor state of affairs at the National Labour Commission has led to a backlog of thousands of unresolved labour related disputes at the courts.
“The problem is, because of the lack of money, human and material resources, cases are delayed. At some point, the backlog is over a thousand cases. They say justice delayed is justice denied, and this is what we are experiencing in Ghana. Workers simply do not have justice because government is not funding the National Labour Commission,” he lamented.
The Secretary General of the TUC nonetheless pledged the support of the Labour Unions to continuously engage with government to ensure that the NLC is well equipped to operate in accordance with its mandate.
Dr. Baah also strongly backed a suggestion by the Executive Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Ofosu Asamoah, that the Commission be allowed to charge some fees as well as seek other means of generating internal funds to support their work instead of always depending on subventions from government which leads to bottlenecks in the delivery of justice for workers.
Mr. Ofosu Asamoah in a presentation on the operations, Challenges and the Way forward for the NLC indicated, that the Commission has only one functional pickup vehicle and a fifteen year old motorbike to serve the more than 11 million workers across the country. He said the commission has for close to one year been seeking financial clearance to hire an additional lawyer to support the work of the only one lawyer currently serving on the commission, but to no avail.
Mr. Asamoah said as it stands, the work of the commission has been concentrated in Accra since it lacks offices in the other regions of the country.
While calling on government to fully resource and retool the National Labour Commission, as well as help create new offices across the country, Mr. Asamoah also urged organised labour to put their weight behind the Commission to drum home its call for adequate funding.
The National Labour Commission (NLC) is established under Section 135 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651). The function of the Commission includes the settlement of industrial dispute through negotiations and other effective alternative methods of disputes resolution, such as mediation and arbitration. The Commission is also governed by the NLC’s Regulations (2006), Legislative Instrument (LI) 1822 and the Labour Regulations (2007), LI 1833.
Story by Nana Agyemang Prempeh