ILO TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO GHANA
A delegation made up of Ghana’s Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah and social partners paid a courtesy call on the Head of Tripartite and Governance of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Mr. Youcef Ghellab during the centenary celebrations of the latter in Geneva, Switzerland.
The delegation, which comprised of representatives from the Ministry, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) and an officer in charge in Tripartite, was to interact with the ILO in order to exchange ideas, share concerns and see how best the ILO can be of help in the areas of social dialogue and capacity building for the National Tripartite Secretariat (office) as well as the social partnership committee.
The Hon. Minister indicated that the request to meet with the ILO is to update the latter on the current status of industrial relations practice in Ghana and also to see how best to collaborate in the near future.
According to him, the major issue is about the determination of the Daily Minimum Wage as well as the basic pay for the public/private sectors. That, he said, has not been an issue because the tripartite bodies, being government, employers and workers have always collaborated to handle and resolve issues amicably.
The Hon. Minister said what is lacking for the tripartite body is a dedicated Secretariat that will enable it to assume an independent structure. He pointed out that currently the tripartite office is being housed within the premises of the Ministry and will therefore need some capacity and logistics to assume full independence. The Ministry further revealed that the MELR has begun staffing the office to see to the day-to-day running of the tripartite office.
The minister also recalled that Ghana signed a compartment agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), adding it is mandatory that the Fund would from time to time send its technical team to look at the book of records of Ghana by way of tracking what we do as a country. He said however that although the period has expired, government thinks this is the opportune time for Ghana to have a body that is neutral and independent to handle and provide internal oversight responsibility over such critical issues. That body, he emphasized, is the tripartite body.
Also as part of the way forward, the Ministry disclosed that in April 2019, government signed a tripartite partnership compact with the social partners. The major move, according to the Hon. Minster, is the first of its kind in the country, adding the partners have clear objectives within which to operate. He further added that the partners are yet to come out with targets that will guide them as to how to operate.
In a related development, Hon. Minister requested for technical assistance from the ILO saying it will enable the partners deepen the social compact and adhere to the tenets of the ILO. The Minister said for instance that the country is being hit with the issue of technology in the Future of Work, climate change, and decent job ethics. He pointed out, for example, that the country’s Port is likely to face the challenge of laying off some of its staff because of automation.
Adding his voice, Mr. Alex Frimpong, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Employers Association (GEA), reiterated that the social partners have had a long history of soial dialogue and so as the world of work changes, social dialogue and engagement must also advance accordingly. He confirmed the GEA is committed to the ILO and will help improve the industrial relations environment in Ghana.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, said he previously sent emails while in Ghana to reach the ILO team for the assistance of the National Social Economic Council but to no avail. He was grateful however that in spite of the short notice the ILO team met the Ghanaian delegation and has agreed to provide technical support to the social partners.
In response, the Head of tripartite and Governance of the ILO, Mr. Youcef Ghellab said he was happy about the request from Ghana and promised the Organization will be more than happy to provide the technical support needed to build and consolidate the efforts of social partners in Ghana.
He also expressed satisfaction with the Compact Agreement and cited Ireland and Netherlands as countries that Ghana can learn from in the area of social dialogue.