Petitioners worried about tenure of NLC members

BY: Samuel K. Obour

The delay in reconstituting the National Labour Commission (NLC) is causing agitation among organisations which have petitioned the commission for redress of labour-related matters.

The tenure of members of the commission expired four months ago and the current situation could have dire consequences on the labour front.

Under the Labour Act, the NLC has a four-year term, after which the commission is reconstituted.

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The absence of a commission explains why the NLC has not been heard in recent times, especially in the wake of the several strikes embarked upon by some labour unions.

It has been more than a month now since the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) laid down their tools but there has not been any intervention from the NLC as a result of its incapacity.

A notice of expiration of the membership of the commission has been posted at the NLC, a development that turns several petitioners away in disappointment upon entry into the commission’s premises.

The NLC takes its origin from the Labour Act (2003), Act 651, which came into force several years after Ghana gained independence in 1957.

Before the promulgation of Act 651, the Industrial Relations Act (1960), Act 299, governed labour relations.  Under Act 299, the Labour Department, under the then Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, was in charge of managing and settling industrial disputes.

A source at the NLC who expressed concern over the absence of commissioners, told the Daily Graphic that “currently we do not have a labour commission in the country and this does not augur well for the labour industry”.

It said people who had petitioned the NLC could not have their cases heard on account of the non-existence of a commission.

The Public Relations Officer of the NLC, Mrs Charlotte Hanson, also told the Daily Graphic that the Industrial Relations Department of the commission handled mediation cases and that the secretariat was still functioning.

She explained that the department had panels members who were in charge of investigating cases for resolution, but according to the source, no concrete decisions could be taken without commissioners in place.

When contacted, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Nii Armah Ashietey, told the Daily Graphic that the names of new commissioners had been submitted to the Presidency for consideration.

He explained that members of the commission, as the law prescribed, were drawn from government, organised labour and employers.

As a result of that, he said, the President would have to approve the names, in consultation with the Council of State.

According to Nii Ashietey, although the tenure of the former commissioners had expired, activities were still going on at the secretariat and gave an assurance that in the next few days new commissioners would be named.

By Sebastian Syme/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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