The result of Ghana’s recent presidential election, which saw President John Mahama defeated by opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, confirmed the country’s commitment to democracy.
However, this commitment goes beyond the occasional election. The key to this country’s democratic robustness lies in its promotion of social dialogue. Bringing workers and employers together when making decisions that affect them builds a national consensus and reinforces the institutional stability that maintains Ghana as one of the healthiest democracies in Africa.
At the national level, tripartite consultations have resulted in a 1500 per cent increase in the national daily minimum wage over the last fifteen years. It is noteworthy that the Ghanaian economy has experienced a steady growth of 7 per cent per year since 2005.
As a recent study by the Labour Research and Policy Institute of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) puts it: “Social dialogue is well-rooted in Ghana and encourages the development of shared consensus among social partners in the country, which in turn eases policy implementation”.
Engagements between political parties and organised labour has been part of Ghana’s democratic process right from the beginning of the struggle for independence and workers’ rights. In 1948 when pro-independence politicians were arrested, the TUC Ghana’s call for a nationwide strike saw to their release.
In the lead up to the 2016 elections, the two largest political parties, the sitting National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) as well as a budding political party known as the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) all met with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of Ghana. The TUC’s priority during these encounters was to put the country and its economy back to work in order to ensure economic development and the creation of jobs for the growing youthful population.
Peace during and after the elections was also high on the agenda. At the end of the encounters the parties committed to ensuring peace during and after the elections and the implementation of their manifesto promises should they win.
The peace experienced during and after the elections, and the commitment to a smooth transition process, are the results of an economy built on a formidable social dialogue framework, on which Ghana continues to thrive.
As the country prepares to usher in a new government on 7 January 2017, there is a call to give momentum to the various national, sub-national and enterprise level social dialogue mechanisms to deal with economic and social issues that goes beyond the space of collective bargaining and wages.
Organised labour is also committed to keeping the new government on its toes to ensure there is delivery.