Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Ghana

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Ghana, 9 June 2007, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 21,800,000
Capital: Accra
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 182

Two US-owned companies, Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) and Wal-Mart, opposed their Ghanaian employees' attempts to unionise.

Trade union rights in law

Rights protected: The 2004 Labour Act removed restrictions on the right to organise, bringing the law into line with ILO Convention 87. However, the Emergency Powers Act 1994, which grants extensive powers to suspend the operations of any law and to prohibit public meetings and processions, has still not been repealed.

The armed forces, the police, the prison service, and the security and intelligence agencies mentioned under the 1966 Security and Intelligence Agencies Act are excluded from belonging to a trade union, as are workers whose function is considered as: (a) policy-making (b) decision-making (c) managerial (d) holding a position of trust (e) performing duties that are of a highly confidential nature or (f) being an agent of a shareholder of an undertaking, so they do not have any possibility of bargaining. Excluding the armed forces and police from the right to organise is not in breach of international labour standards, but the other services mentioned should not be denied these rights.

There is no minimum statutory length of time for a collective agreement to last. The law prohibits acts of anti-union discrimination, and employers found guilty can be required to reinstate fired workers.

Unions have restricted rights to strike: The law recognises the right to strike, with limitations. All disputes have to be referred to the National Labour Commission, which is also known as the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) and is an arbitration body composed of government, union and employers' representatives. Strikes are seen as a last resort, where arbitration is unsuccessful, and unions must give seven days' notice.

The government has not yet formally approved a list of essential services in which the right to strike can be restricted. Limitations can be imposed on the right to strike for workers in a private enterprise if their services are deemed essential to the enterprise's survival.

Export Processing Zones: The Labour Act protects trade union members and their officers against discrimination if they organise within the zones.

Trade union rights in practice

Anti-union discrimination: Unions report anti-union discrimination in many companies, which the authorities fail to stop. Many employers are particularly resistant to senior staff being unionised.

Collective bargaining under attack: The Ghana Trade Union Congress considers that the country's labour law is anti-union, as it seeks to weaken trade unions, attacks the collective bargaining system, discourages job security, erodes workers' benefits and over-protects the dispute settlement procedures. While the GTUC welcomes the National Labour Committee, it is concerned that it is bypassed by state institutions, which intervene in industrial disputes. Recent government representatives' statements quoted in the press indicate that the government believes that the 2003 Labour Law effectively outlawed strikes.

No union has ever gone through the complete dispute resolution process, and there were numerous unsanctioned strike actions during the year. There have been no legal strikes since independence.

Violations in 2006

Background: There were a number of public sector strikes this year by teachers and health workers, over pay and working conditions, although 80% of the workforce is now in the informal sector.

US data company denies union rights: It was reported in April 2006 that Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) the US-based data processing company was still refusing to allow its workforce to form a union. The workers' campaign to win the right to organise started over five years ago, and since then the ACS management has responded by threatening to close down its operations and to sack those who criticise management policies.

Wal-Mart blocks union: In Spring 2006 Wal-Mart reportedly refused to sign the certification for the union at the garment-making factory used by the company. The factory management told the UNI-affiliated Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) that it could not go ahead and recognise the union, as it wanted to keep its business with Wal-Mart.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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