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General News of Thursday, 21 February 2008

Source: gye nyame concord

Another Strike Looms At BoG

THE WRITING is clear on the mezzanine walls of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) that the senior staffs are donning their combat gear for a fight with management to defend their right to form a trade union by embarking on a strike anytime soon.

The strike will be in response to management’s strategy to frustrate the workers with a court for which BOG has reportedly forked out GHC10, 000 in legal fees to the renowned Nutifafa Kuenyehia, an external lawyer of the Bank.

Information gathered from the Bank indicates that the leadership of the senior staff are under intense pressure from the members and unless the government calls the management to order, the bank will witness its second strike in less than a year. The first strike took place around June-July, last year.

Neither senior staff leadership nor the management is willing to talk but the stand-off is dangerously inclining towards the red point where the workers believe strike is the only option left to them.

The saga of the looming industrial action at the central bank began late last year when the senior staff registered their association with the Chief Labour Officer as a trade union.

The Union then applied to the Chief Labour Officer for a Collective Bargaining Certificate (CBC) that empowers unions to negotiate with management on terms and conditions of service.

Gye Nyame Concord learnt that the CBC issued by the Chief Labour Officer covered all senior staff of the bank, including the Governor, for the simple reason that the Constitution used to register was that of senior staff association.

The management justifiably rejected the CBC as the class captured in it covered officers in policy and decision making positions, and representatives of the shareholder who may not join a trade union as provided for in the Labour Act, Section 79.

Management also claimed that its staff has been unionised against their will and thus their rights have been violated.

In the aftermath of the uneasiness, the National Labour Commission invited management and executives of the senior staff to a meeting to resolve the agreement.

At the end of the meeting, the Commission directed management and workers to negotiate and arrive at an agreement in two months that will exclude the senior staff members, who by virtue of their functions, should be excluded from the union.

Rather than comply with the directive, management of the bank sued the Chief labour officer and joined the Commission, seeking the revocation of the union’s registration certificate and the collective bargaining certificate.

Bank officials not happy wit the tension in the central bank confided to Concord that the court action was to frustrate the unionisation process and the upcoming salary negotiation.

Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that management of the Bank of Ghana has a bad industrial relations record. Its authoritarian style meant to intimidate the emergence of a voice for workers have resulted in many wrongful dismissals of staff who are challenging the action in courts.

According to the investigations, current court cases against BOG number over 35 and the bank is losing them one by one and paying hefty sums in legal fees and compensation to staff.

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