Comply with Labour Act 65(1) – Labour Dept. to FAB; bank says committed to dealing fairly with staff

The Labour Department has asked the management of First Atlantic Bank (FAB) to comply with the provisions of Act 65(1) vis-à-vis its recent retrenchment exercise...


The Labour Department has asked the management of First Atlantic Bank (FAB) to comply with the provisions of Act 65(1) vis-à-vis its recent retrenchment exercise.

The Act, which relates to redundancy, says: “When an employer contemplates the introduction of major changes in production, programme, organisation, structure or technology of an undertaking that are likely to entail terminations of employment of workers in the undertaking, the employer shall (a) provide in writing to the Chief Labour Officer and the trade union concerned, not later than three months before the contemplated changes, all relevant information including the reasons for any termination, the number and categories of workers likely to be affected and the period within which any termination is to be carried out; and (b) consult the trade union concerned on measures to be taken to avert or minimise the termination as well as measures to mitigate the adverse effects of any terminations on the workers concerned such as finding alternative employment”.

The directive comes on the heels of a complaint lodged by Mr John Esiape, the representative of some of the retrenched staff of the bank, who are demanding an upgrade of their severance package.

In response to Mr Esiape’s letter titled: ‘IN THE MATTER OF ILLEGAL LOCK-OUT OF STAFF BY FIRST ATLANTIC BANK PENDING NEGOTIATION OF REDUNDANCY UNDER ACT 65(1)’, the Labour Department said: “We have received an official complaint dated 20th May 2019 from Mr John Esiape, in respect of the subject matter above on behalf of some workers of First Atlantic Bank Limited.

“We recall that the management of First Atlantic Bank Limited officially notified the Labour Department of a redundancy exercise that was to affect some workers of the bank.

“Consequently, the management was advised to negotiate with the affected workers on the matter of their redundancy package and other terminal benefits in line with Section 65 (2)(4) of Act 65(1).

“We, therefore, wish to entreat management of First Atlantic Bank, to comply with this provision of the law by inviting the affected workers or their representative to the negotiation table if concerns have been raised by the affected workers through their representative in the person of Mr John Esiape. We thank you in anticipation of your cooperation in this matter”, the letter signed by the Acting Chief Labour Officer, Mr Eugene Narh Korletey, said.

Read below Mr Esiape’s full complaint and the bank’s full response:

Chief Labour Officer of Ghana

Labour Department

Accra

Dear Sir,

IN THE MATTER OF ILLEGAL LOCK-OUT OF STAFF BY FIRST ATLANTIC BANK PENDING NEGOTIATION OF REDUNDANCY UNDER ACT 65(1)

I write as a representative of the locked-out staff of First Atlantic Bank who have supposedly been earmarked for termination under a purported redundancy exercise and I act on their instructions.

My clients inform me that the management of First Atlantic Bank, at a meeting on 30th April 2019, notified them of an impending redundancy exercise and that their last working day shall be 2nd May 2019. That following management’s announcement, my clients were locked out when they reported for duty on 2nd May 2019.

Consequently, the bank has illegally withheld my clients’ remuneration from the beginning of May 2019 although the supposedly impacted staff have neither negotiated nor concluded the redundancy package; nor have they been issued with any termination letters.

At a meeting with management representatives on 14th May 2019, we advised the bank to unconditionally restore the employee status of the supposedly impacted staff as a prerequisite for meaningful negotiation which negotiations by law and practice were expected to be conducted under duress. In addition, the bank was informed about the illegality of the punitive lock-out and untold hardship imposed on the said staff including pregnant women, nursing mothers and their babies as well as sick employees, whose source of funding for medical care, had been cut off among other inhuman experiences and violation of their human rights for no justifiable reason.

I have my clients’ instructions to request your immediate intervention to have the Managing Director of First Atlantic Bank, Mr Odun Odunfa, restore payments or direct the restoration of the remuneration of the said staff unconditionally and without delay. My clients also advice that the Managing Director and the entire management of First Atlantic Bank should accept responsibility for the violation of their rights and associated consequences.

My clients are willing to engage and expect that the bank will agree on good advice to comply with the requirements of the Labour Act 2003, (Act 65)(1) in carrying out the intended redundancy exercise.

Yours Truly

For and on behalf of affected FAB staff

John Esiape

Advisor

Cc: MD, First Atlantic Bank

Response by the management of First Atlantic Bank:

[20 May 2019]

The Chief Labour Officer of Ghana

Labour Department

Accra

Dear Sir,

RE: IN THE MATTER OF ILLEGAL LOCKOUT OF STAFF BY FIRST ATLANTIC BANK PENDING NEGOTIATION OF REDUNDANCY UNDER ACT 65(1)

Please, accept our warm compliments.

We write in respect of the above subject matter in which we were copied. We deem it important to clarify the facts presented by Labour Matters Advisor, representing some of our ex-workers who were affected under the redundancy exercise we undertook.

As you are aware, we notified you of our intention to undertake a redundancy exercise in accordance with section 65(1) of the Labour Act, 2003. In consultation with our advisors, we proposed the following redundancy package to the affected workers:

a. One (1.0) month basic salary for every year of service completed on a pro-rata basis.

b. One (1) month basic salary in lieu of notice period.

c. Transportation amount.

d. Pay in lieu of any unused leave entitlement up to the Exit Date.

e. Offer of a twenty per cent (20%) discount on your total outstanding loan amount.

After receiving feedback from the majority of the affected workers, we revised the redundancy package upwards as follows:

a. One and a half (1.5) months basic salary for every year of service completed on a pro-rata basis.

b. One (1) month basic salary in lieu of notice period.

c. Transportation amount.

d. Pay in lieu of any unused leave entitlement up to the Exit Date.

e. Offer of a twenty percent (20%) discount on your total outstanding loan amount.

The redundancy payments were made to the affected workers by May 3, 2019, which was their final day of work. Redundancy letters were emailed to both private and official emails of the affected workers. And, all affected workers were asked to obtain hard copy letters from our Human Resource Department. So, as far as we are concerned, we have complied with all our legal and commercial obligations in respect of the redundancy.

It is important to clarify that the Labour Matters Advisor, Mr. John Esiape, does not represent all the workers who were affected by the redundancy exercise, contrary to the impression he seeks to create in his letter. The compulsory redundancy affected eighty-three (83) workers. Mr. Esiape only represents fifty-three (53) of the affected workers.

Some of the affected workers have accepted the redundancy package and have exited the Bank peacefully. It is also important to note that apart from the workers who were initially earmarked to be affected by the redundancy, an additional number of eleven (11) workers, acknowledging the fairness of the redundancy package, voluntarily approached the Bank to be given the same package. These workers have since received their redundancy package and have also exited peacefully.

While strongly believing in the fairness of the redundancy package paid to the affected workers, the Bank, in the spirit of engagement, goodwill and transparency, negotiated an enhanced redundancy package by way of settlement with Mr. Senyo Adjabeng, the first Consultant engaged by the group of affected workers, who was relieved of his appointment when we appeared to have reached a mutually acceptable position and a draft agreement already in circulation for review/execution. The enhanced package which we negotiated with Mr Senyo Adjabeng was as follows:

a. One and a half (1.5) months basic salary for every year of service completed on a pro-rata basis.

b. One (1) month basic salary in lieu of notice period.

c. Transportation amount.

d. Pay in lieu of any unused leave entitlement up to the Exit Date.

e. Offer of a twenty per cent (20%) discount on total outstanding loan amount.

f. Extension of employee’s medical cover for a six (6) months period.

g. Provision of a day's training session for affected employees.

We understand that the enhanced package was rejected. On Monday, 13 May 2019, we were informed that Mr. Senyo Adjabeng had been replaced with Mr. John Esiape. And, in the same spirit of engagement, goodwill and transparency, our legal advisors met with John Esiape on Tuesday, 14 May 2019 to discuss the concerns of the group of ex-workers being represented by him.

Mr. John Esiape presented our legal advisors with an estimated number of twenty-one demands on Thursday, May 16, 2019, which the Bank is considering. Thus, it has come as a surprise to us that Mr. John Esiape would serve this complaint on your high office considering that we are still in discussions with him.

That notwithstanding, we are ready to submit to the National Labour Commission or any other competent adjudicatory body for the speedy resolution of this matter in the overall interest of both parties.

The bank is committed to fair dealings with all stakeholders including its staff and has approached the matter in a conciliatory manner despite the resort to unwarranted media attacks on it and its management.

We thank you.

Yours faithfully,

First Atlantic Bank Limited

______________________________ Head, Human Resource

______________________________

Head, Legal

Cc. Labour Matters Advisor, John Esiape


Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3FM



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