Operations of the National Labour Commission (NLC) may grind to a halt in the coming weeks if the government fails to release funds to the commission, the Executive Secretary, Mr Ofosu Asamoah, has said.
According to him, the commission was yet to receive its third quarter allocation of GH¢100,000.
“Presently, we are running out of fuel and our electricity supply can also go off at any time and this may cause business to grind to a halt,” Mr Asamoah lamented, adding that obsolete machines and equipment, inadequate office space to allow for more sittings to hear labour cases and the attitude of some workers and employers during settlement proceedings often delay the settlement processes.
The executive secretary, therefore, expressed worry that the commission in its present situation may not be able to handle industrial strike actions if they occurred.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Tema last Friday, Mr Asamoah indicated that the commission’s financial situation was so dire that it was unable to work on the number of complaints it received on monthly basis.
Mr Asamoah indicated that the commission presently needed about GH¢8 million to procure goods and services, open up offices nationwide and also recruit lawyers and requisite staff to operate effectively.
The commission, he said, presently operated the Accra office and a smaller office in Takoradi opened a few weeks ago.
“At a recent budget hearing, the commission was allocated GH¢100,000 for capital expenditure that is why employers are continuing to take workers for granted, knowing labour is weak,” Mr Asamoah bemoaned.
He wondered why government establishments such as the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo), the Commissioner on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) had offices in various districts across the country, “yet the very labour that is working within these establishments have no offices nationwide and the only time we hear about labour is when workers are on strike,” he lamented.
Mr Asamoah said an average of 70 complaints were filed monthly by individual workers, worker associations, trade unions and employers, but the NLC was able to resolve about 50 per cent of such cases.
He also expressed regret at the commission’s inability to provide petitioners with the necessary legal representation to enforce rulings at the labour court, and that meant that only those with financial means were often able to fully enforce rulings to their logical conclusion.
“Presently, there are a pile of cases that we are unable to deal with because we have only one legal officer who follows up on cases and gives the commission legal opinions and guidance,” Mr Asamoah said.
As such, he said, cases were often rolled over to the following year for settlement, adding that of the 718 cases that were filed in 2017, the commission resolved about 324 of them by the end of the year.