Organised labour has called for the establishment of specialised courts to deal with the numerous industrial relations disputes in the country.
That, according to workers’ organisations, will ensure the application of law, as well as the sensitive application of the Labour Act, 2003 in industrial disputes for quick and satisfactory redress.
Summing up the views of his colleagues, the Secretary-General of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), Mr Abraham Koomson, expressed the need for selected Fast Track High Courts to deal with industrial relations cases referred from the National Labour Commission (NLC) or aggrieved parties.
He said judges at the courts should also be resourced to have an understanding of the Labour Act and the sensitive nature of industrial relations that the law sought to regulate in the economic development of the country.
He said Family, Commercial and Motor courts had been set up and noted that it was time for labour courts where the Labour Act would be applied, having regard to the sensitive nature of industrial disputes in the economy.
Mr Koomson said an important trigger of industrial unrest was the seeming frustration among workers when they were seeking redress through due process.
He said in certain rulings by the courts since the passage of the Labour Act, sitting judges of the traditional court system had contradicted the relevance of the NLC in industrial dispute resolution and made it ineffective.
Certain court decisions, he said, suggested that the traditional courts still held on to the adversarial approach of industrial relations that characterised the past.
Mr Koomson said a basic principle of the Labour Act 2003 was moderating the unfair labour relationship between employers and employees that existed in the past, with employers having the upper hand.
He said if the courts, therefore, ruled that in an appeal case the NLC could not defend appeals of its ruling but the worker whom it ruled in favour of needed to engage his or her own counsel, the purpose of the act was thus defeated.
The acting Secretary-General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, also said one High Court should be set up to deal with labour issues, instead of all High Courts hearing labour cases.
Mr Asamoah said the issue of specialised courts for labour issues was to be tabled before the tripartite committee, comprising the government, organised labour and employers, soon.
Others who shared similar sentiments included Mr Austin Gamey of the Gamey and Gamey Academy of Mediation (GAMM) and labour consultant.
Mr Gamey, however, stressed that the dedicated courts would not be superior to the NLC but would just be dedicated to labour issues and have the powers of an Appeal Court to either enforce the orders of the NLC or hear appeals of aggrieved parties from the commission.
He also stressed the fact that the judges of such courts had to be properly trained to apply the Labour Law.
DAILY GRAPHIC, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2008