Ruling On Injunction On Labourunions, Dec.16

A Labour Court in Accra has set December 16, to rule on an interlocutory injunction filed by government to restrain the 12 labour union groups from embarking on another strike over the management of the Tier Two Pension Fund.

It is the case of the government that, the future of Ghanaian workers over the management of the pension fund should not be left in the hands of private institutions that cannot offer the same guarantee of trust as government.

But labour opposed that position of government saying, it was unilaterally imposing the Pensions Alliance Trust on them.

The disagreement resulted in the 12 labour unions embarking on a strike.

A week ago, the court, presided over by Saeed Kweku Djan, an Appeals Court judge sitting as additional High Court judge, adjourned hearing to yesterday to enable it to study the affidavit in opposition filed by the defendants.

At exactly 9: 25am when hearing began, all the aggrieved groups represented by their lawyers were present in court.

Making his argument, Dr. Dominic Akurutinga Ayine, Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General debunked the assertion that labour had the right to embark on a strike.

He further debunked the argument by the defendants that, granting the application would truncate their (labour) right to freedom of association, explaining that there was no such right justifying the action taken by labour.

“My Lord, the language of Article 24 of the 1992 Constitution which is being relied upon by labour does not support the inference that there is a constitutional right to strike,” he said.

Making reference to a Canadian Supreme Court decision in the ‘Public Service Alliance of Canada and Canada’ he said the majority of the judges held that the guarantee of freedom of association in section 2(D) of Canadian Chapter did not include the guarantee of right of collective bargaining on the right to strike.

In the context of Ghana’s Bill of Rights, he said even if the court accepts the argument that the right to strike emanates from the right to freedom of association, there will be no substantial inference or nullification of the rights.

Dr. Ayine averred that if the right to strike exists, it must be subjected to the same limitations as contained in the Bill of Rights.

He mentioned consideration of the public, public safety and respect for the rights and freedoms of others.

“My Lord, the fact that third party will be affected has not been denied by the respondents, it is a testimony of their admission of that fact. My Lord, for instance, school children will have their rights affected when teachers absent themselves,” he said.

He said economic activities within the public sector would be adversely affected by the strike.

Dr. Ayine said if the court should agree that there was such a thing as constitutional right to strike, it should take into account not only the right of the defendants but the rights of the government as the employer to services for which it pays the workers regularly on a monthly basis.

By Malik Sullemana    

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