General News of Monday, 5 September 2016
The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho and the Parliamentary Service Board have resolved all the issues pertaining to the unionization of the workers of the House.
The unionization of the workers of Parliament began in 2007 under Speaker Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes but had since stalled due to a number of disagreements between management and the staff who wanted to get unionized.
As a result of the delay, the National Union of the Financial, Business and Services Employees Union (FBSEU) of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) filed a petition at the National Labour Commission (NLC), which led to the directive from the Commission asking both the Union and the Parliamentary Service to meet and sign the Standing Negotiating Committee Constitution to pave the way for negotiation for better conditions of service for the staff.
Having failed to comply with the NLC’s directive, the commission went to Court to enforce its decision, which was duly granted by an Accra High Court (Labour Division) on July 27, 2014, but the Service once again failed to comply with the Court order.
But in his avowed demonstration and belief in the enforcement of the fundamental human rights and freedom of association as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, the Speaker and the leadership of the Parliamentary Service took some bold decisions to bring closure to the impasse.
In a memo dated July 26, 2016 and signed in his capacity as the Chairman of the Board to the Clerk of Parliament, the Speaker stated that “the fact that this matter has lingered as far back as 2007 when the FBSEU informed the Parliamentary Service of its intentions and in conformity with legal principle that it is necessary that litigation must come to an end, I have decided that we should expedite action on resolving this matter so that our energies can be better deployed in resolving other pressing issues.”
The Speaker, in his memo, stated that “there was the need to provide adequate safeguards in the constitution of the Standing Negotiating Committee of the Union and the Parliamentary Service, as well as in the Parliamentary Service (Staff) Regulations 1995 (CI 11).
He said at its 19th regular meeting held at Akosombo in September 2015, the Board took some decisions and further decided that the two parties- Parliamentary Service and FBSEU- should negotiate the class of workers who can join the Union with regard to Section 79(2) of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651.
Rt. Hon. Adjaho further directed the Clerk in his memo to take steps on behalf of the Board to invite the FBSEU of the Ghana Federation of Labour for consultations and review of the draft constitution of the union to reflect the concerns of the Board.
He said, “The protracted delay in resolving this matter and the signing of the constitution of the Standing Negotiating Committee would seem to lend credence to the adverse media reports on Parliament alleging defiance of the orders and the rulings of the National Labour Commission and the High Court, and thus reinforce the negative perceptions of the institution.”
The Speaker also stated in his memo that “the Parliamentary Service cannot continue to contravene indefinitely the orders of the National Labour Commission, which are in conformity with the provisions of Article 24 of the 1992 Constitution, the Labour Act, 2003, Act 651 and the National Labour Commission Regulation 2006, LI 1822 that guarantees the right of every worker to join any trade union of his choice without restrictions.”
“You are kindly requested to take immediate action on the above-stated directives and thereafter submit a report to me in compliance with Section 10 of the Parliamentary Service Act, 1993, Act 460, which provides that the Speaker shall, subject to the decision of the Board, have ultimate responsibility for the administration, organisation and control of employees of the Service.”
These developments have been hailed by the workers and the leadership of the local union who have described the Speaker as a true statesman who is always interested in the welfare of his workers.
Speaking to the General Secretary of the FBSEU of GFL, Benjamin Mingle commended the bold initiative by the Speaker in getting the vexed issues in relation to the unionization brouhaha amicably resolved.