Labour laws really need review

BY: Daily Graphic

Yesterday, at the national celebration of May Day that was climaxed at the Black Star Square after a procession by organised labour through some principal streets of Accra, labour unions asked for a review of the labour laws.

At a glance, the labour laws look good as they covers all employers and employees except those in strategic positions such as the Armed Forces, Police Service, Prisons Service and the Security Intelligence Agencies, and provide for the protection of the employment relationship, general conditions of employment, employment of persons with disability, employment of young persons, employment of women, fair and unfair termination of employment, protection of remuneration, temporary and casual employees, unions, employers’ organisations, collective agreements and strikes, among many others as well as the establishment of the National Labour Commission.

So, for the TUC to demand a review of the laws, despite their major provisions, means that the country needs to give a thought to the concerns of organised labour, as the laws were promulgated mainly to address labour issues and ensure that both workers and employees worked harmoniously for higher productivity, while building trust between the two, so that neither of them would feel cheated or short-changed in their dealings with each other.

This is not the first time a call has been made for a review of the labour laws of the country.

In the latter part of last year, at the third delegates’ congress of the Ghana Federation of Labour in Tema, a call was made for organised labour to push for a holistic review of the laws.

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After operating with the laws for years, it has been realised that employers, especially those in private establishments, had taken advantage of the loopholes to exploit workers, a situation the laws sought to prevent.

For instance, there are still hundreds of thousands of Ghanaian workers who are paid below the minimum wage of GH¢270 per month. Again, some employers in their eagerness to make as much profit as possible, have resorted to outsourcing jobs that used to have permanent status.

In their resolve to maximise profits, these employers have reduced many permanent workers to casuals, thereby giving them the leeway to pay these casual workers far less than they were paying them when they were permanent workers, though the casual workers do the same work with same skills or are even at times given higher tasks.

Unfortunately for these casual workers, the dearth of employment avenues in the country compels them to accept the offer, albeit grudgingly and reluctantly.

It is also not uncommon these days to hear about some employers who discourage unionisation of workers at the workplace. Such employers are fond of victimising workers’ leaders and even workers who identify themselves with union activities.

The role of the worker in enhancing the status of organisations can never be taken lightly.

The importance of that role transcends the workplace, as growth in the Gross Domestic Product of the country is the aggregation of all the productivity that is done by the individual worker.

It is, therefore, in line that organised labour is championing the call for the review of the laws to address workplace issues that have a high potential of derailing economic growth and the Daily Graphic reasons that the nation must take this demand up and act on it.

The position of the Daily Graphic is that allowing some employers to use lapses in the labour laws to cheat workers may seem right to these employers but in the long run, it will militate against the rapid and sustained development of the country.