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Business News of Thursday, 29 October 2015

Source: B&FT

Labour market institutions are under-funded-TUC

Kofi Asamoah, TUC boss Kofi Asamoah, TUC boss

Labour market institutions are underfunded and lack adequate human capital to ensure their effective performance.

This and many other issues form part of proposals the Trades Union Congress has submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to be considered in the 2016 Budget.

The TUC says it expects significant increases in the allocations to the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the National Labour Commission (NLC), Labour Department and Department of Factories Inspectorate, since they have the responsibility to work with trade unions and employer organisations to ensure a peaceful industrial relations atmosphere in the country.

However, due to the aforementioned shortcomings, the labour market institutions are unable to perform their roles effectively -- and this is evidenced in the frequent strikes and threats of strikes that have disrupted the labour front in the past year and more.

For instance, the National Labour Commission (NLC) -- the sole institution to facilitate and settle industrial disputes using dialogue -- received GH¢2.7million last year, and this has been described as woefully inadequate to carry it out its functions as captured in the Labour Act (Act 651,2003).

The NLC received 428 complaints last year (2014) and was only able to deal with 216, just about half, of these labour-related cases. The Labour Department, on the other hand, was only able to conduct inspections in only 139 establishments registered by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) during the period under review.

The sector ministry, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, this year (2015) received GH¢43.8million as its budgetary allocation for the year. The TUC believes more investments in these institutions, in terms of human and material resources, will enhance social dialogue among the social partners and reduce tension on the labour scene: especially as we enter an election year (2016).

This is a lot of commonsense in the TUC’s proposal, since in the last four years the labour landscape has been inundated with industrial strikes by medical doctors, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Graduate Teachers Association (NAGRAT), pharmaceutical workers, nurses…and the list goes on.

Government has consistently been drawn into remunerating agitating workers in order to restore industrial peace, but this has been costly and is definitely unsustainable. It undermines economic productivity and is costly to development while the taxpayer, ends up paying the price exponentially.

Designing proper bargaining systems to address these rampant occurrences is not lacking since a Labour Act, Act 651, is in place; but the NLC, which is the institution to champion this process, is financially handicapped and the TUC has rightly urged a significant budgetary allocation increase to enable it perform its arbitration and mediating role effectively.