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1,874 WORKERS SEE RED BETWEEN 2005 AND 2007

By James Harry Obeng

T

he Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) became the subject for heated discussion and referencing as a workshop to educate employees about their rights came to an end in Accra on Saturday.

The question, “what kind of organisation theory are employers resorting to?”, set the platform for heated arguments and querying that did not only engaged attendees on the rights of the employee under the Ghanaian law, but also focused on the worrying developments of ever-increasing industrial disputes enveloping the country in recent times, especially strike actions.

The workshop, organised under the theme “know your rights as an employee according to Ghanaian law” by the African University College of Communications (AUCC) Chapter of the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), drew participants from selected tertiary institutions in Accra, including the AUCC, Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and the Institute of Multimedia Studies (IMS).

In a presentation, the Head of Research at the National Labour Commission (NLC), Mr. Paul Kofi Amegee, disclosed that the NLC had received 1,874 employee petitions between 2005 and 2007, pegging the monthly figure of complaints lodge with the Commission at 60.

The petitions, he said, covered seven major categorizations of complaints, namely summary dismissals, unfair termination of appointments, retirement or end of service benefits, unpaid salaries, workmen’s compensations and redundancy or severance pay issues, among other matters. So far, 457 complaints have been successfully settled by the commission within the period under review, he added.

Giving a breakdown of the statistics Mr. Amegee indicated that 2005 recorded 525 petitions made up of 123 summary dismissal cases, 120 unfair termination of appointments, 57 retirement benefits complaints, 50 unpaid salaries, 15 workmen’s compensation petitions, 33 redundancy pay issues and 127 other complaints.

The year 2006, he said, recorded a surge in the figures, recording 138 additional complaints in view of the previous year. These complaints encompassed 145 summary dismissal issues, 178 unfair terminations of appointments, 72 retirements benefits complaints, 77 complaints of unpaid salaries, 11 workmen’s compensation petitions, 43 redundancy pay complaints and 137 other complaints.

Mr. Amegee recounted that 2007 saw the complaints ballooned to 686, involving 161 summary dismissal issues, 171 unfair terminations of appointments, 64 retirement benefits complaints, 77 unpaid salaries, 26 workmen’s compensation petitions, 56 redundancy complaints and 131 other petitions. He added however that the statistics for 2007 were provisional.

Mr. Amegee attributed the numerous complaints characterizing the industrial front to the non adherence to the Labour Act by employees and employers alike

“Most are also a result of the lack of disciplinary codes at various institutions in the country”, he said.

Responding to a query about what constituted unfair termination of appointment, Mr. Amegee exhausted section 63 of the Labour Act and cited such terminations engendered on grounds of ones gender, race, colour, ethnicity, origin, religion and creed, social, political or economic status.

He however described as fair, in accordance with section 62, all terminations on grounds that the worker is “incompetent or lacks the qualification in relation to the work for which he is employed, proven misconduct of the worker, redundancy under section 65 and due to legal restrictions imposed on the worker prohibiting him from performing the work for which he is employed”

Mr. Amegee advised attendees to “insist on employment letters covering agreements and contracts” as a way of avoiding unfair termination of appointments and also urged employees o join trade unions for the promotion and protection of the economic and social interest.

He said with such union, a formidable front was always presented in addressing eventualities.

Touching on strike actions in the country, Mr. advised that though the right to embark on strikes was granted under law, employees should exercise circumspection and restraints before pouring onto the streets.

This was because, “they create social problems like unemployment which also results in prostitution, thievery and robbery”

“We have the right strike but let’s exercise that right with circumspection”, he quipped.

He advised parties involved in industrial disputes to negotiate in good faith with a view to reaching a settlement of the dispute, adding that parties should not hesitate in resorting to the NLC whenever such negotiations breakdown.

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May 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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