The use of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms to resolve workplace disputes has been described as the best way to ensure industrial peace in Ghana.
According to Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, General Secretary of the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union, as the challenges at the workplace become increasingly complicated for workers and management, ADR remains the secret to industrial harmony.
“If management and the unions deepen their understanding on the importance of ADR concept, it will go a long way to promote industrial harmony at the workplace,” Mr Owusu-Koranteng told ADR Daily in an interview in Accra.
This year, labour analysts predict more work agitations for enhanced conditions of service due to the increasing cost of living. They fear many of the agitations would result in strike actions.
However, Mr Owusu-Koranteng, who is also an ADR practitioner, believes ADR offers an antidote to forestall such labour unrest.
“ADR provides an opportunity for parties to discuss possible disagreements before they escalate into fully blown conflicts, and that can help management and unions to work ahead of possible conflicts,” he stressed.
He encouraged the unions to spearhead the utilisation of ADR, adding that building good relationships between management and union members is very important for strengthening the social partnership concept in industrial relations.
“This makes the promotion of ADR concept an imperative in the work of the unions,” he said.
He noted that although other countries are actively employing ADR mechanisms in the labour market, Ghana has not fully explored ADR to derive the relevant benefits for the workplace.
Regrettably, he said a lot of the cases between management and workers that end up at the National Labour Commission and the courts could be effectively addressed through ADR, and that can contribute to increased productivity at the workplace.
Elaborating how trade unions could fully adopt ADR, Mr Owusu-Koranteng, explained that although unions use ADR tools such as negotiation, arbitration and mediation in the course of their work, the consciousness about ADR as an important concept for conflict resolution remains low.
He believes that although Trade Union leaders are equipped with negotiation and mediation skills, professional training in ADR for Trade Union leaders would go a long way to deepen the knowledge of Trade Unions about ADR and increase the consciousness of members on ADR.
“Continuous training is part of trade union work and Trade Unions can incorporate ADR concepts in their training programmes or even members can be sponsored for professional training in ADR.
“Trade Union work is essentially a conflict resolution activity and Trade Union leaders should seek professional training in ADR to enhance their work and be able to share the knowledge gained with members,” he said.
Also, he encouraged companies to support management, especially HR managers to undergo professional training in ADR, indicating that “if HR managers and staff of a company are professionally trained ADR practitioners, it can enhance their understanding of conflicts and how to deal with them.
By Nii Adotey/adrdaily.com