The Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has paid a visit to Labour Unions in Accra.
The Minister first visited the Trades Union Congress (TUC) where the leadership and members of the Union received him warmly. The visit, according to the Minister, was to familiarize himself with the leadership of the Union and also to acquaint himself with the environment in which they operate.
He stated that he had not come to lord it over them, but to partner with and to operate an open door administration with them in order to have a peaceful dialogue on issues. “We don’t only exist to solve problems but we exist to build mother Ghana”.
One critical issue of concern raised at the meeting was the privatization of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). The TUC expressed their dissatisfaction with the intention of the previous government to sell the Company. They were of the view that the country can generate more money than the amount for which the Company is being sold.
In reaction, the Hon. Minister explained that government has neither affirmed nor disaffirmed her position on the issue, adding that the matter would be looked into critically.
The meeting also discussed issues such as review of the Procurement Policy, Trade Policy, Single Spine Pay Policy, National Employment Policy, and Tax Policy. Other concerns raised were on government intervention to speed up the process of ratifying the various International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions in Parliament and also of formalizing the informal sector economy.
The Minister assured them of his commitment to work in accordance with the agreement they had with the President, H.E. Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
As part of the visit, the Hon. Minister also met with the leadership of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL). The President of the Federation, Mr. Caleb Nartey, who spoke on behalf of the Union, said their major challenge was that of accommodation and office space. Mr. Nartey also complained that GFL was not happy about the frequent removal of the Ministers for Employment and Labour Relations. Another member, Mr. Mensah added his voice on the issue of private security, saying it had become a source of employment for many young people. He noted, however, that their salaries were below the minimum wage and should be critically looked at. Mr. Mensah further complained of some ill treatment meted out to Union leaders, citing for example the case where a Union leader ends up in the Law court. Both assured the Minister of their readiness to work with him.
The Hon. Minister’s next visit was to the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) and the Leadership of the 12 Labour Unions. The Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, Mr. Bampoe, who received the Minister and his team, briefed them about the various Unions. He assured the Minister of their support and assistance on his appointment as the Sector Minister for Employment and Labour Relations.
Leaders of the various Organized Labour Unions were given the opportunity to address key areas of concern to them. The following were mentioned among others: unpaid salaries of midwives and nurses, unemployed nurses, no codified Conditions of Service for members of the Government Hospital and Pharmaceutical Association (GHOSPA), Teachers’ salary arrears, inadequate teachers, and the payment of only three months pay arrears instead of the full years of service.
Another issue identified was the imposition of E-zwich on government workers. The Hon. Minister allayed the fears of members and said he would follow up on the issue, but he also pointed out that perhaps the system could be a good one that may have some implementation challenges.
The Hon. Minister expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the forum and promised to engage individual Unions to deliberate on how best their individual issues can be resolved to ensure a peaceful and harmonious industrial relations environment.