The National Labour Commission (NLC) received 388 industrial relations complaints between January and August this year.
Out of the number, it was able to settle only 46.
The Head of the Public Relations Unit of the NLC, Mrs Charlotte Hanson, attributed the low rate of resolution of cases to the inaction of the directors and heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
According to her, the heads of agencies did not respond to correspondence and also failed to present themselves for meetings scheduled by the NLC in relation to labour issues brought before it.
That situation, she said, delayed the processes to resolve grievances and, thereby, escalated tension between parties.
She said when the heads persistently failed to turn up for meetings to resolve disputes, the NLA, on coming up with a decision, was subsequently faced with the added difficulty of the inability of the government institution to abide by the decision or award.
The NLC has, this year, successfully resolved 139 complaints rolled over from 2005, bringing the total number of complaints settled in the first quarter of this year to 185.
Officials of the Research Department of the NLC settled 128 cases through facilitation, whereby it set up investigative teams to look into industrial relations complaints and invited parties before panels for the amicable resolution of matters.
Nine cases were settled by the commission; while 10 were settled through mediation, whereby the parties chose from a list of certified mediators on the database of the NLC.
The mediators could be a panel of three or a sole mediator, and the mediator, who is a neutral third party, helped parties resolve any grievance.
Six cases were resolved by arbitration.
Arbitration is where the parties, upon reaching a deadlock on a matter, are helped to arrive at a decision by an arbitrator giving an award by voluntary or compulsory arbitration.
Nine cases were resolved amicably by the parties themselves, while 18 cases were withdrawn.
Mrs Hanson said the NLC declined jurisdiction on two issues, explaining that issues relating to the security services or the Foreign Affairs Ministry were out of the jurisdiction of the commission by law.
She said the NLC had requested for two lawyers from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department to be represented on the panel of the commission in some of the deliberations for an award or a decision.
That, she said, would ensure that in any ruling that had an impact on the government, the assistance of the Attorney-General would be forthcoming.
“We are also serialising sections of our law, Act 651 and regulations to sensitise heads,” she added.
Training programmes, including the dramatising of issues to educate the public, were also some of the actions to be taken, she said.
However, Mrs Hanson could not give a time frame for the beginning and the end of the actions to solve the challenges due to inadequacies in the NLC’s budgetary allocations.
Source: Daily Graphic
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