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The effective application of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) as professional practitioners in the field of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, especially as ADR practitioners (negotiators, mediators, Arbitrators, coaches and facilitators) is very crucial. It has been observed with great concern the inability of most stakeholders, especially in the HRM and Industrial Relations to follow the principles and procedures that should usually serve as a guide in making the labour law and practice beneficial to the nation and social partners.

It is important to establish that; three main pillars must help stakeholders to be able to apply the Labour Law, the ADR Act 2010, Act 798, Legislative Instrument (LI)1822 and LI 1833 and of course the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. These include an acquisition of the necessary Knowledge, Understanding and Skill to enable key players to appreciate the benefits of the law and practice fully.

Necessary Knowledge

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Since it took about four years to put together well over two thousand pages of valuable ingredients leading to the drafting of the bill and the accompanying memorandum for the passage into law by the Parliament of Ghana, it is only appropriate that implementers of the law acquire the necessary knowledge both in letter and in spirit for any meaningful application of the law.

It is instructive to note that, managing people as a resource is a process to enable those who seek their services to fully benefit even as the workers share in the joy and happiness.

The necessary knowledge demands that leadership understands fully three main areas which are managing people, policy and strategy and labour-management-co-operation. These three key areas serve as “Enablers” to process the agenda of other stakeholders who are the investors and shareholders, and also external customers who patronise the goods and services of any organisation to produce the much-needed results as key outcomes and indicators of a flourishing business.

Apparently, corporate objectives and strategies are set based on the policies underpinning the vision and mission of any organisation.

However, the people leading the various departments or sections will have to feed the leadership or policymakers for the purpose.

It is envisaged under Section 8(b) of Act 651 that the employer shall set targets or key performance indicators [KPI] which should serve as the benchmark to guide those who work in such organisations to achieve the vision and mission of the broad-based stakeholders.  Obviously, it will be by these KPI’s that the HRM and other departmental heads will carry-out Appraisals and Performance Enhancement Plan (PEP) for the smooth running of their organisations. The outcome of all the above will be in fulfilment of Section 98(G) of Act 651 which enables the employer to pay remuneration based on productivity.

The seeming lack of fine details of the necessary knowledge in the application of these policies and strategies which are part and parcel of the Labour Act has significantly contributed to low productivity and peace-meal profits of organisations and of making the overall GDP of the country to be where we are currently.

Understanding

Acquiring knowledge without understanding is like “fetching water with a basket”. A specific example was after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus when He met the disciples he asked them a question. (Ref:  Luke 24:44-47) “ And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” The point at stake is that, because they were not in the same spirit with the Lord Jesus, they could not understand the fulfillment of the Law of Moses as concerning who the Lord is and so he has to open their understanding that they might understand the scriptures.

It is the spirit that giveth life and that is the reason why they went into the upper-room to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit thereby having the understanding of what they were told. It is needful for practitioners in HRM, IR to seek understanding to enable them play the roles expected of them, in the management of people and other resources at their disposal to prevent or experience early resolution of any form of conflict.

Skill

Skill is in reference to the capacity to apply the knowledge and understanding smoothly without hitches. That means “Nyansa” or wisdom.  The practitioner must have some high level of wisdom in the management of people at any level for workflow not to be inhibited or suffer stagnation.

It is expected that with the three-in-one, a skilled practitioner should create openness in the system for the sharing of relevant information as in Sections 9(G) and 97(2) of Act 651.

In this way, such structural and cultural obstacles to the use of core competencies can be redirected to enable organizations and institutions to make maximum use of their scarce or available resources and to create favourable conditions for using the competencies. The outcome is to lift the organization from sub-optimizing level to a future of growth and profits.

By: Austin Gamey