The Executive Secretary of the National Labour Commission (NLC), Mr Ofosu Asamoah, has appealed to the government to give clearance for the filling of positions in the commission.
He said for about a year now, positions for legal officers declared vacant by the Public Services Commission (PSC), had been pending because the Ministry of Finance (MoF) had not given the clearance.
However, cases were piling up, with 200 new cases reported at the commission since May this year, while the sole legal person juggled appearances in court on many cases, and at the same time briefed the commissioners on judgements, filed cases and prepared to present them in court.
Mr Asamoah was speaking at a day’s forum on labour policy, organised by the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).
It was on the theme: “Industrial disputes resolution: The law and the practice.”
Speaking on the topic: “Operations of the NLC, challenges, constraints and the way forward”, Mr Asamoah also suggested the payment of fees for services rendered at the commission.
That was because the institution did not have the funds to cater for the court charges in the numerous cases coming before it, some of which had to be taken to the courts.
He said the lack of funds also delayed the presentation of some issues before court.
“Some petitioners sometimes agree to file the cases themselves and pay the fees in the face of delays for lack of funds,” Mr Asamoah said.
Mr Asamoah advocated an increased allowance for the commissioners as the payment of GH¢450 to them per sitting, which sometimes dragged into 10p.m, was demotivating. The executive secretary also called for better conditions for staff.
Making a presenting on “The law governing industrial relations and dispute resolution”, the General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Justice Yankson, said with the principles in the Labour Law, Act 651, labour disputes did not have to delay for more than a month.
He, however, expressed frustration with the NLC, which he said was fierce with workers and gentle with the government and employers even when they were not right on an issue.
Dr Yankson was of the view that the attitude of the NLC did not foster trust and confidence in its work among workers.
He also called on stakeholders to make the position of commissioners of the institution permanent and called on the Secretary General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, to lead the crafting of a “strongly worded communique” to the government to resource the NLC.
“We have done that before, but it bears repeating,” he said.
A Justice of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter K. Ababio, in a presentation on the topic: “An appraisal of rulings of the NLC”, advised the commissioners to be resolute, thorough and meticulous in their decisions.
He also urged them to be firm on their decisions when they finalised any case.
The Chairman of the NLC, Mr Andy Asamoah, said with the backlog of work at the commission, members were sitting two days in a week, while offices in Tamale and Kumasi would also benefit soon from the sittings that would be carried out there.
He said eight out of 10 cases at the commission could be solved amicably and urged employers and workers not to take entrenched positions.
The Resident Director of the FES, Mr Fritz Kopseiker, urged for the timely constitution of the boards of critical institutions such as the NLC in future.
He also called for the resourcing of the commission.