The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has ordered Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) to pay compensation and reinstate some 37 former employees of the defunct UT Bank and Capital Bank for wrongful termination of contracts .
The Commission ordered that the plaintiffs be compensated within three months of receipt of its decision with three months’ net pay for each plaintiff at the current salary for each grade the plaintiffs held prior to termination for the traumatic experience of loss of their jobs. .
Ms. Eleanor Tettey and 36 other complainants who are former employees of GCB Bank Ltd (UT Bank and Capital Bank) filed a complaint against the Bank on May 29, 2019, after being dismissed.
The complaints allege discrimination, unfair and abusive termination of appointments by GCB Bank Ltd (respondent).
The remedies sought by plaintiffs include, among others; a statement that the probationary period, the issuance of new letters of appointment, the reduction of their salaries and the termination of their appointments were abusive and in violation of their collective agreement; an order directing the respondent to pay compensation to all affected former staff.
In a 21-page ruling on the matter signed by Commissioner Joseph Whittal and signed June 20, the Commission also orders that “those who entered institutions of higher learning as mature students should be reinstated as they do not didn’t need English and math credits. after passing the entrance exam to these higher education institutions.
Position of complainants
According to the plaintiffs, some of whom were former employees of UT Bank and Capital Bank, on August 14, 2017, GCB Bank took over the operations of UT and Capital Bank under a “purchase and (PAA) approved by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
The plaintiffs claim that, through the takeover, GCB Bank assumed responsibility for the staff of UT and Capital Bank, the branches of both banks as well as their customers.
They argued that, by letters dated August 31, 2017, the receivers of UT and Capital Bank sought to terminate their employment with UT and Capital Bank when they were already employees of GCB Bank .
They said some of the workers at UT and Capital Banks had not been absorbed into GCB Bank and had received letters terminating their engagement for no reason.
They added that others who were absorbed served illegal probation and then had their commitments terminated.
They note that from February 13, 2019, GCB Bank sent them letters indicating that they were going to end their engagement “at will”.
According to them, one of the reasons for the Bank’s action was that they did not have the required pre-university qualification while those employed in 2017 with similar challenges were given a year to rewrite their pre-university . exams.
This action, according to them, constitutes discrimination since they were not heard before the dismissal, which constitutes a violation of the principles of natural justice. They indicated that several attempts to get the Bank to listen to them proved unsuccessful.
They complained to the Chief Labor Officer who invited the parties to the meeting, but the respondent did not honor the invitation.
They added that among those whose appointments were terminated were national service personnel who were seconded by the National Service Scheme to perform their national service.
In view of the foregoing, the Complainants requested the following remedies in particular:
“A statement that the probationary period, the issuance of new letters of appointment, the reduction of their salaries and the termination of their appointment were unlawful and in violation of their collective agreement
“An order directing the defendant to pay compensation to all affected former staff members.”
In its response to the allegations, the Respondent (GCB) stated that; the Bank of Ghana revoked the operating license of UT Bank and Capital Bank (all in receivership).
She argued that on August 14, 2017, GCB Bank signed a PAA with the co-receivers with BoG’s approval.
The Respondent suggested that under the terms of the PAA, GCB Bank selected certain branches, purchased certain assets and assumed certain debts of the two banks in receivership.
They stated that; “GCB Bank at no time took control and took over the operations of UT and Capital Banks.”
The Respondent stated that the two Receiver Banks were subsequently liquidated and that the Joint Receivers wrote to the staff of the two Liquidated Banks explaining their current status and that their appointments had been terminated by the Joint Receivers and that an indemnity of departure had been given to them after negotiations by the respective Unions of employees of the two Banks.
The Respondent then offered employment to selected employees of the two receivership banks.
The letter of appointment contained conditions of employment which were accepted by the staff. The respondent added that the offer of appointment was subject to reference checks, school certificate checks, criminal record checks and medical fitness.
They argued that the complainants were hired as new employees and that either party could terminate the engagement by giving the required notice or payment in lieu of notice.
GCB Bank said that, in accordance with the terms of employment, it terminated the appointments of some staff members after their checks revealed that they had no English or maths credits after completing high school or both in violation of “The Bank’s Historical Recruitment Policy”.
The Respondent claimed that while the termination of the engagement was pending, certain Bank staff issued a suspension order and, in deference to the courts so as not to be cited for contempt, interrupted the termination exercise.
The Respondent is of the view that this action should not be construed as discrimination since some staff members who had problems with English and Mathematics had their contracts terminated, while others with the same problems are still employed by the Bank.
Furthermore, the Bank noted that the Complainants had been recruited as new employees, therefore placed in the required grades and matched with the Bank’s salary structure which they accepted, so it was not true that their salary was reduced.
In addition, the bank denied forcibly assigning employees to the workers’ union and withholding union dues from their pay, thereby violating their right to organize.
Pursuant to section 18(1) of the CHRAJ Act of 1993 (Act 456) which requires the Commission, after investigation, to report its decision and the reasons therefor to the person, minister, department or to the competent authority concerned and to make any recommendation it deems appropriate and in view of the findings above, the Commission’s decision is as follows:
“That the Complainants be compensated within three months of receipt of this decision with three months net pay for each Complainant at the current salary for each grade the Complainants held prior to termination for the traumatic experience of losing their jobs when they had a legitimate expectation of being employed by the Respondent after successfully passing all the checks and receiving an appointment letter and a confirmation letter after working the required probationary period.
“Those who entered tertiary institutions as mature students should be reinstated as they did not need English and math credits after passing the entrance exam to these educational institutions superior.
“Whether those who rewrote their math and English assignments and passed them and submitted to the GCB, the defendant here should be considered for renomination.
As indicated in the introduction to this decision, this decision is applicable to Sandra Dede Kumi and 38 other pending before the Commission but whose investigation was suspended in consultation with the parties in this case. Accordingly, the Board so orders.