An Industrial Relations Practitioner, Bright Sconi has recommended the use of proactive negotiation as an effective tool to prevent or resolve disputes that may emerge between employers and employees arising from the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses across the globe, employers have had to make tough decisions.
These include workforce downsizing, termination of employment contracts, compulsory leave, slashing of employees’ salaries, and non-payment of allowances, all with the intent of ensuring the survival of businesses.
These developments continue to create uncertainty, tension and differences between management and workers’ unions.
But speaking to ADR Daily, Mr. Sconi believes that an effective negotiation system that fully considers the interests of both management and employees would help to resolve the emerging differences.
“This is not the time to have a banter between employers and employees with respect to termination of contract, wrongful dismissal or salary cuts. It’s a time for open talk, a time where employers and employees talk for solutions,” he said.
In addition, he encouraged workers and management to cooperate fully on interventions to protect their businesses in the present situation, indicating that a strong Labour-Management Cooperation (LMC) would help companies to overcome the economic challenges of the pandemic.
A good LMC, he explained, ensures the sharing of adequate information, consideration of interests of both sides, joint promotion of organizational productivity, and business progress.
He cited Section 97 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651, which states that
(1) “All parties to the negotiation of a collective agreement shall negotiate in good faith and make every reasonable effort to reach an agreement. (2) For the purpose of subsection (1), either party to the negotiation shall make available to the other party information relevant to the subject matter of the negotiation.
According to Mr Sconi, discussions or negotiations between management and organized labour must be based on trust.
Touching on the termination of employment contracts, Bright Sconi encouraged employers to always ensure that there is mutual agreement, following a dialogue with affected workers, before termination is carried out to avoid claims of unfair dismissal or wrongful termination.
He pointed to Section 15 of the Labour Act 651 which states that “A contract of employment may be terminated, (a) by mutual agreement between the employer and the worker,” explaining that once a mutual agreement is reached, termination can then be carried out.
Benjamin Nana Appiah/ www.adrdaily.com