By Iddi Yire/Jesse Owusu Ampah, GNA
Accra, Aug. 13, GNA - More than one hundred people have applied to the National Labour Commission (NLC) to become mediators and arbitrators, so as to facilitate negotiation and dialogue in labour disputes.
Mrs Rose Karikari Anang, Vice Chairman, NLC, said the applications were received following the Commission's decision to float an advert to open up mediators and arbitrators list, so that they could welcome more people (mediators and arbitrators).
She said this was because since the passage of the Labour Law in 2003, and its implementation, which is almost 15 years now, the people (mediators and arbitrators) the Commission have had on its list have been inadequate.
She said in addition, more people have done various courses in Labour Mediation and Arbitration, which also qualifies them as mediators and arbitrators; stating that "we want to give them an opportunity".
Mrs Anang made the disclosure on Tuesday at the opening of a programme on mediation and arbitration for social partners in Accra.
The two-day workshop was organised by the Ghana Employers Association (GEA) in collaboration with the NLC with funding from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO).
The programme seeks to support employers, organised labour and government representatives to understand and appreciate the role of mediation and arbitration in Ghana's labour dispute settlement processes and procedures in particular, and industrial relations in general.
It is also intended to equip the social partners to be enable to prepare adequately in the event that dispute is reported to the NLC.
Mrs Anang expressed concern at the inadequate number of mediators and arbitrators in the country, and the low patronage of mediation and arbitration as a tool for labour disputes resolution in the country.
She said the Commission's decision to open the list of mediators and arbitrators was also because there has been an increase in labour disputes.
"So, we want to have a wider list of people (mediators and arbitrators), who will be mediating and arbitrating in this labour issues."
Mrs Anang said the Commission has developed a code of conduct to guide the conduct of arbitrators and mediators to ensure that they were doing the right thing.
She said there have been challenges with the mediation process and arbitration process, stating that workers and trade unions, might not opt for mediation because they need to pay for it.
Mrs Anang said because of this a large number of labour disputes end up being heard by the Labour Commissioners; "what we call Summary Settlements".
"And so, all cases are coming to the Labour Commissioners, and so we have a long list of cases, which is dating as far back as 2015/2016, which is yet to be heard," she said.
"We want to educate the social partners for them to know that mediation and arbitration is also a mechanism for resolution of labour disputes," Mrs Anang said.
She urged the social partners to have faith in mediation and arbitration.
"Justice which is delayed is denied, and so we want justice to be facilitated expeditiously as far as possible," Mrs Anang said.
She said the new mediators and arbitrators would be taken through training and a certification processes.
She said those already in the system would be taking through some refresher programmes, because business was dynamic and things were changing.
"We at the Labour Commission are poised to deepen the process of mediation and arbitration.”
On his part, Mr Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive Officer, GEA called for a proactive way to solve labour disputes through mediation and arbitration.
He said one thing that was very critical in every work place was how to settle disputes between workers and management.
Mr Frimpong said that the objective of the workshop was to deepening understanding, enhance cooperation and facilitate the processes of mediation; so that both management and employees could sing from the same page sheet when it comes to the settlement of industrial disputes.
He said because conflict was inevitable in society, there is the need for stakeholders to adequately prepare themselves for any eventuality; stating that "the essence is to prepare, so that in the event that it occurs, you are ready to handle the situation, so that it brings industrial peace".
Mr Frimpong said as and when problems occur, there must be an organised way of addressing them, so that the organisation could grow from strength to strength.
He said once there was an organised way of addressing labour disputes in any country, investors would be ready to invest in it.
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