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The Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), enjoins employers and their workers or unions to negotiate conditions of service or contract of employment or a collective agreement to govern their working relationship and work in a way that fits the organization. “DUTY TO NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH”  

  • All parties to the negotiation of collective agreement shall negotiate in good faith and make every reasonable effort to reach an agreement.”

  This provision is to guide the parties in the negotiation to follow a principle that will not underminethe integrity of the process. DEFINITION Based on the law as quoted above, we in Gamey and Gamey define contract negotiation as: “A genuine process to negotiate collectively in good faith on issues to regulate terms and conditions of employment and work, productivity, remuneration and other benefits including non-employment and dispute resolution, based on relevant sharing of information, generation of options and consensus-decision which must be owned by all stakeholders for implementation.” By this definition, we hold the view that is in tandem with sections 97 and 98 of Act 651 and in direct response to good faith negotiation.   The Paradigm Shift in Negotiation This new method envisaged under Act 651 is a departure from the traditional adversarial approach, which, as we all know, made no provision under the old Industrial Relations Act,1965(Act 299) for sharing of relevant information as indicated in section 97 of Act 651. It is, therefore, safe to state that negotiation in the 21st century should be approved differently. This is because the true beneficiary of the negotiation is not the parties around the table but the relationship between the parties. That is the reason why the negotiators should always look for what their interest represents.(Refer Section 9(h) and 11(g) of Act 651).   Rules Governing the Negotiation The Labour Act specifically enjoins the formation of a Standing Negotiating Committee or Joint Standing Negotiating Committee under sections 101(1) and(2),  and 103(4) of  Act 651. “NEGOTIATING COMMITTEES

  1. (1) The trade union appointed in a certificate issued under section 99 and the employer of the workers of the class to which the certificate relates shall each nominate their representative authorized to conduct  negotiations on their behalf, and the representatives shall constitute a standing negotiating committee to negotiate on matters referred to it.   (2) A standing negotiating committee referred to in subsection(1) shall make rules governing the procedure.
  2. (4) Rules made under subsection (2) of section 101 may be applicable to negotiations conducted under this section and to other matters relating to such negotiations.”

The above sections are intended to further strengthen the legal authority of parties to make their own rules that should guide them to negotiate in good faith. It is expected that the parties co-constructing the rules will take into consideration their roles which may include the numbers, quorum, number of meetings to be held, sub-committees to be formed as under section 101(3), which states; 101 (3) “A standing negotiating committee or joint standing negotiating committee set up under this section shall have the power to appoint sub-committees to which it may delete any of its functions under this act. The use of language and in particular the protection of the negotiation as stated in section 127(3 and 4). 127 (3) A worker or a group of workers who by any kind of threat seeks to intimidate the employer during negotiations of a collective agreement is guilty of unfair labour practice. (4)“Employers or employer’s organization who seek by any kind of threat to intimidate the worker during negotiations of a collective agreement are guilty of unfair labour practice. It is expected that the parties will endeavor to put together the rules and have them signed before the commencement of the negotiation. This is because the rules are intended to serve as a guide for the facilitator or chairperson to avoid intimidation or threats during the negotiation, which is considered as an unfair labour practice in Ghana.

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Austin Gamey
Austin Gamey is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gamey and Gamey Group, and an affiliate of PULSE Institute, Calgary, Canada and Mediation Training Institute, Kansas City, USA, and Work Meter on the Continent of Africa on how to increase and measure productivity. He possesses several years of consultancy and training experience gained from work activities, training, research and benchmarking programmes in Ghana, U.S.A., Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Canada, Denmark and Norway.