NATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE AND PEACEFUL LABOUR RELATIONS- BY CHARLOTTE HANSON

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Promoting social dialogue amongst Tripartite Partners remains one of the topmost priorities of Government to resolve labour challenges. The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has invested a lot of resources over the years to achieve a peaceful industrial front that inure to the smooth implementation of Government’s policies and programmes. However, recent happenings on the labour front give credence to the need for deepening dialogue among tripartite constituents to ensure peaceful labour relations for national development.

It is in light of this that the Ministry in collaboration with its Tripartite Constituents organised a 2-day National Labour Conference on 28th February and 1st March, 2022 at the Rock City Hotel, Kwahu Nkwatia. The Conference was organised under the theme “Strengthening Tripartism for Building Peaceful Relations and Resilient Economy”. The Conference sought to reinforce a tripartite conversation on the dynamics and happenings on the labour front for coordinated policy responses.

Over two hundred (200) participants from key Government institutions, Employer Organisations, Organised Labour and selected Organisations participated in the Conference. The Conference was chaired by Daasebre Akuamoah Agyapong II, Kwahuhene and President of the Kwahu Traditional Council. H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana delivered the keynote address and officially opened the conference. H.E. the President accepted the suggestion to institutionalise the National Labour Conference as an annual event to be held in February of each year at the Rock City Hotel.

A number of dignitaries graced the first ever National Labour Conference. These comprise Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah (MP), Minister for Employment and Labour Relations; Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance; Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister for National Security; Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum (MP), Minister for Education, Hon. Seth Acheampong, Eastern Regional Minister; Mr. Daniel Acheampong, President, Ghana Employers’ Association; Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, Secretary General, Trades Union Congress; Ms. Vanessa Lerato Phala, ILO Director, Anglophone West Africa and other Ministers of State.

Throughout the various sessions of the Conference, a participatory approach was deployed to enrich discussions and consultations. Contemporary issues that dominated discussions at the conference include the state of the economy, conditions of service of public sector workers, public sector salaries, labour productivity, labour dispute prevention and resolution, and ensuring sustainable pensions for all. The Conference also provided a unique opportunity for the various actors to exchange views and ideas on topical issues that threaten labour unrest. In spite of how critical these issues are to the welfare of workers, they usually result in loss of man hours if left unresolved or unattended.

The Conference concluded with the adoption of roadmap by the Partners. The roadmap sets forth the framework for Government, Employers and Organised Labour in the attainment of macroeconomic stability and building resilient economy for the achievement of national objectives. It also spelt out the obligations of tripartite partners in ensuring peaceful industrial relations.

Simultaenously, the Conference resolved that Government should expedite work on review of the Single Spine Pay Policy to address the current issues of salary inequities/inequalities, weak salary administration, and weak management of conditions of service. As part of the way forward on the review process, the Ministry would constitute a Technical Committee by end of March 2022 to undertake a preliminary review of the policy, cost implications and advise Government on policy reforms for the implementation of the revised pay policy.

In addition, the Conference also agreed to build and strengthen the capacity of the Labour  Department and the National Labour Commission to effectively deliver on its mandate of labour administration. These include the effective and timely prevention and resolution of labour disputes, promoting social dialogue among employers and labour and improving dispute resolution mechanisms at the workplace.

The Tripartite Partners also agreed to collectively undertake sensitization and awareness creation on existing and relevant labour laws and regulations to facilitate compliance and enforcement and promote industrial peace and harmony. The Conference resolved that resolution of all pension issues which dominated the syndicate group discussions and plenary should be prioritised to guarantee retirement income security for the Ghanaian worker.

The Conference was officially closed by H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.

Overall, the conference was very successful and achieved the intended objectives. The Conference amplified the need for effective social dialogue among the tripartite constituents to build peaceful labour relations and a resilient economy.

The Writer is the Head of Public Affairs of the MELR & a staff of the ISD

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