|Illegal Strikes Not The Best For An Election Year|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:26|
The first quarter of the year has just come to an end and the country, Ghana, has already witnessed turbulence on the industrial scene. This turbulence has arisen out of employer-employee disagreements (industrial disputes) thus resulting in to illegal strike actions.
An example of illegal strike action embarked upon during the period under review was that of some members of Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) where the National Labour Commission issued a press statement and asked them to rescind their decision, go back to work immediately while allowing negotiations to continue.
Others in the public sector that have taken the lead in the number of strikes recorded include the National Health Insurance Authority, UTAG and GHOSPA. Their illegal strike actions are centered mainly on the inability of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to migrate their members unto the Single Spine Salary Structure. For the private sector, one recalls among others the Coca Cola Company Limited workers also demanding for better conditions of service and salaries; a situation that has brought both private sector employers as well as the FWSC into the news often.
The question that often comes to mind is “how prepared are we as a nation to implement this new pay policy?” Or “do workers really appreciate the intricacies of this new policy”?
A little scanning around indicates that the strike actions are not over yet and only time can tell the number of issues that are still pending, waiting to rear their ugly heads in the near future.
Sometimes one wonders why, and is tempted to believe that may be because the nation is gearing up for the polls in December 2012, some workers are determined to capitalize on the situation to press home their demands for better salaries and conditions of service without recourse to due process.
Indeed, justice calls for due process. That is why it is important that pressing for better conditions of service has to be done through rightful and legal procedures, and not resorting to illegalities. In fact, the mentality of keeping quiet on labour related issues and making politics out of them in an election year may not be the best after all. It actually does not promote good corporate governance.
On the contrary, it would be proper for all employers (corporate bodies) to take appropriate measures so as to allow for “good faith” negotiations and also improve workers conditions instead of paying deaf ears to labour issues while allowing them to degenerate into strike actions during election years.
It is equally important to remind all stakeholders that poor industrial relations management poisons the industrial environment and undermines the promotion of effective labour and management cooperation.
Following these industrial conflicts, present and previous governments have taken bold and frantic initiatives in order to manage industrial relations generally. An important innovation is the establishment of the National Labour Commission (NLC), an adjudicating body established under section 135 of the Labour Act, 2003 ( Act 651).
The NLC, as an independent statutory body, is mandated to facilitate and settle industrial disputes and also to promote labour management cooperation among the labour market players.
Since its establishment in 2005, the Commission no doubt has executed its roles at the highest level and in the process resolved countless of such industrial disputes using effective industrial relations mechanisms outlined in Act 651 and the National Labour Commission’s Regulations (2006), Legislative instrument (LI) 1822 and the Labour Regulations (2007), LI 1833.
Act 651 establishes four (4) processes through which industrial disputes can be settled. These are negotiation, mediation, voluntary arbitration and compulsory arbitration. Another method namely summary settlement is established by L.I 1822.
From the argument advanced, it is important to note that industrial disputes have some form of a life span. And if they are left dormant or unattended to they will certainly resurface at very critical periods such as an election year.
It therefore behooves on governments and all the labour market players to ensure that preventive measures are taken to prevent industrial crisis instead of leaving issues unresolved until they escalate and are analyzed in the court of public opinion.
Let’s not forget that a good corporate image coupled with long earned reputation when damaged as a result of strike action is always difficult to repair. It is thus important to resolve issues at the initial stages since they are the only way to avoid illegal strike actions.