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Social dialogue key to better industrial relations in Ghana

A seminar in Accra on 3 July attended by 38 participants from the Public Utilities Workers Union, Timber and Wood Workers Union, Ghana Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union, Ghana Mine Workers Union, and Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union and Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) discussed how to improve social dialogue at enterprise, sectoral and national levels.

The seminar organized by IndustriALL Sub Saharan Africa Region, BWI Africa and Middle East Region and Industri Energi (IE) Norway discussed how to build union and employer capacity to effectively engage in social dialogue and improve the participation of women and youth who are often marginalized. Further, the seminar recommended that legal and institutional reforms be made to recognize unions’ role in social dialogue. 

Solomon Kotei, chairperson of the IndustriALL Council Ghana emphasized: “Social dialogue brings cordial industrial relations. Without such engagement it is difficult to improve working conditions at workplaces. This underlines why we need to continuously find means to improve social dialogue and build union capacity.”

Ole-Kristian Paulsen, IE international advisor who facilitated said: “The well-conducted seminar shared Norwegian experiences of social dialogue with a focus on Industri Energi and showed major differences between systems in Norway and Ghana. Through discussions Ghanaian unions saw the need to change their systems. Distinguishing between negotiations and an active-inclusive-involving social dialogue that creates development for the future at the workplaces is important.”  

The seminar discussed that social dialogue plays a critical role in not just creating a productive and progressive environment for collective bargaining, but also improves industrial relations between workers and employers. It also contributed more effectively to improving productivity in the workplace, strengthened enterprise viability and secured decent jobs. Participants urged trade unions to use social dialogue beyond considering it as a platform to put forward labour demands. Social dialogue also provides unions with an opportunity to contribute to enterprise growth and achieving development goals. 

Garikanai Shoko, regional education officer for BWI Africa and Middle East added: “Social dialogue promotes consensus building and democratic involvement among stakeholders in the world of work. For BWI, meaningful dialogue is important to improve institutional capacity and to support tripartite industry structures in our sectors.”

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