The National Tripartite Committee has urged employers to adopt social dialogue in engaging employees on work-related challenges in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Committee, the approach is necessary in the event of possible layoffs or other mitigating measures.
Social dialogue is the process whereby social partners negotiate, often in collaboration with the government, to influence the arrangement and development of work-related issues, labour market policies, social protection, taxation or other economic policies.
Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Dr. Yaw Baah, speaking to the media at a COVID-19 communique signing ceremony by the Tripartite Committee, indicated that they expect employers to dialogue with their employees on whatever action they may be taking.
“COVID-19 will affect different enterprises differently, and so where they have a union they have to discuss with their employers and where they don’t have unions, employers should create the space to discuss with workers so that they can agree on the way forward. There are some enterprises that are self-employed and in fact, we were saying probably this is late, but it is not because those enterprises that don’t have unions always have to rely on guidelines from the National Tripartite Committee, so we have come out at the right time so that they can also be guided on what they should do going forward. Social dialogue is the only way we can get out of this together.”
Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, said the private sector is likely to feel the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses than the public sector.
“The impact of COVID-19 on various aspects of the economy differs from one institution to the other. For instance, if you take the public sector, I have not heard and I am not aware of anybody who has not received theor salary because of COVID-19. But if you go to the private sector, as I indicated earlier, the impact differs from one sector of the economy to the other. For instance, the hospitality industry is badly affected than perhaps any other part of the economy. If you come to Accra for instance, most hospitality facilities are usually are filled up with people who are not necessarily Ghanaians, but may have come to Ghana to transact one business or the other. But because there is this ban on travel and people being extra careful, movement has actually reduced, and as a result when you go to most of these hotels they are not functioning.”
He therefore pleaded with employers to use social dialogue in their decision-making processes such that all parties will have their grievances sorted out.
“The long effect of that is if we are not working, all things being equal, our workers are also not working. Eventually what then happens is that they will either ask their workers to stay at home or have some form of arrangement with them. There has not been any formalized way of dealing with workers when it comes to such situations, but that is why the tripartite is urging that should any workplace decide to make a decision as a result of the effect of COVID, we are pleading with them to use the conduit of social dialogue so that it will not be seen as perhaps one part of the tripartite body imposing its rights over the other.”
Many employers and employees have been hugely affected following the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in the country,
Currently, many of them have to cope with the possibility of losing their jobs should the pandemic persist for a long time.
Already, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has predicted that 25 million jobs are threatened by the new coronavirus.
Like many other countries, the pandemic has led to restrictions on movement. This has brought many businesses in the major economic centres countries to a standstill, causing huge financial losses.
Though Ghana’s three-week partial lockdown has been lifted, many stakeholders believe it will take time for businesses to find their feet again.