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The National Labour Commission (NLC) mandated to adjudicate labour disputes will soon be rocked with a major crisis which would dent its credibility. It follows a reported attempt by some members of the Commission to remove the Acting Executive Secretary.

Bernice Welbeck assumed office as Executive Secretary of the NLC last year after the retirement of her predecessor. Per the policy on Acting Assignments in the Public Service, her performance was supposed to be assessed after the first six months for confirmation or promotion.

An Acting Officer is only removed from office when his/her performance is unsatisfactory after the assessment. But there is an alleged plot to advertise her position without any assessment of her work. The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has accordingly petitioned the Presidency to intervene and douse the tension that is mounting at the NLC.

In the petition sighted by Business Day Ghana, the GFL accused the Employment Minister, Nii Armah Ashitey, of conniving with the TUC Secretary General, Kofi Asamoah, and some members of the Commission to remove Bernice Welbeck.

Business Day has learnt that this is partly due to her refusal to approve some controversial benefits for the NLC Chairman, Edward Briku Boadu, whose appointment was fiercely challenged by some constituents of organized labour.

Part of the petition reads:

We have taken pains on our own to do some investigations and the result is that there is an unnecessary show of power and abuse of office by some members of the Commission. Some members of the Commission have ignored the process (for the appointment of the Executive Secretary) and are seeking to advertise the position wit the connivance of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the TUC Secretary General. The situation is worrying and it constitutes interference, because when did Public service appointment become the responsibility of social partners? We view this as an indictment on the appointing authority and a direct interference in the management and administration of NLC.

The GFL said tension is mounting at the NLC as some staff, who are not comfortable with the situation threatens to resign. It asked the government to immediately investigate the matter and act appropriately.

We are hearing threats of resignation by some of the staff including management personnel. Some are even contemplating legal action to challenge the authority and this will have dire consequences for the Commission considering their vast experience.

We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to these issues because losing critical manpower means starting from the beginning and it makes the institution unattractive to competent people. Government must immediately put in place a mediation team to avert any unpleasant occurrence at the NLC. It appears there are some social partners who are influencing the rifts and this does not auger well for industrial relations climate in the country, he said.

The GFL, has been in court since last year challenging the process for the appointment of the NLC Chairman and some Commissioners. It is challenging the authority of the Trades Union Congress to unilaterally nominate the Commissioners without the necessary consultations with the other constituents of organized labour.
Source: Business Day

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