03 October 2016

NLC to seek amendment to Labour Act

nlcThe Executive Secretary of the National Labour Commission (NLC), Mr Charles Bawaduah, says he will seek amendment to the Labour Act to give the commission the power to enforce its decisions.

That, according to him, would help in the efficient practice of industrial relations in the country.

Currently, section 172 of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) states that “Where any person fails or refuses to comply with a direction or an order issued by the Commission under this Act, the Commission shall make an application to the High Court for an order to comply with the direction or order.”

That stipulation is of concern to the Executive Secretary, who told the Daily Graphic that he was of the conviction that that section ought to be amended.

In an interview, Mr Bawaduah said he was sure that unless the commission was given enforcement powers to ensure that its orders were obeyed, parties would continue to flout its directives.

“Until we give enforcement powers to the National Labour Commission, we will continue to have the situation where parties disobey the orders or decisions of the commission,” he told the Daily Graphic.

He said laws were obeyed when there were clear sanctions for disobeying them; thus, if the NLC could not directly apply the sanctions for the infractions of its directives then its essence as an independent arbitrator would be lost.

Making reference to section 167 of Act 651, Mr Bawaduah said the provision meant that a decision of the NLC had the status of a decision of a High Court.

The section stipulates that “An award published under subsection (1) shall be final and binding on the parties unless challenged in the Court of Appeal on questions of Law within seven days after the publication of the award.”

He, therefore, wondered why in the same act the commission had to resort to the High Court in the enforcement of its directions.

“That is creating a problem. You know, when we go to the High Court for the enforcement of our directives, the matter is treated as though the Labour Commission has not dealt with it at all. It is opened up, with further arguments made, as if the court was hearing the whole case de novo (anew) and that makes the work of the NLC unnecessary,” he said.

He added that if the earlier work of the commission had to be subjected to another trial then it would be better for any dispute to be taken to the law court straightaway.

“So I am of the conviction that the lawmaker ought to amend the law, give enforcement powers to the National Labour Commission so we can enforce our decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the executive secretary is acting on this intention.

He told the Daily Graphic that a workshop had already been held in Tamale, where all the agencies under the Employment Ministry met and enforcement of the decisions of the NLC was one of the key issues discussed.

He said other weaknesses pertaining to the law in industrial relations were being looked at for a possible review.

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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