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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Columnist: A.K Adam

The saga and turbulence of the Bank of Ghana's decision to establish Consolidated Bank

It is sad as a Ghanaian to keep reading and watching the bad news of the economy, especially, the decision by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to collapse some banks into a consolidate bank. This has its good and problematic side.

The good side is that BoG might have taken a good decision fast in an attempt to prevent the economy to meltdown in the financial sector and other business sectors in Ghana. This is a plus but with regards to the decisions that BoG took to form consolidated bank has its problems, did they include in their decision about the total number of staffs in the affected banks? If BoG did this in their decision, what was the plan and road map to inform and advise all these employees? The worry is that it seems they are so many workers/employees losing their jobs as a result of the BoG decisions. Hence, the question is what sort of decision did BoG take holistically in that short and fast period? Many questions need answers.

In analysing the problems at hand one could say that we are not who we think we are as Ghanaian professionals because we don’t plan well, we hide and do things as governments both past and present in terms of some policies implementation, some professionals pretend to be clever and intelligent but in the end all we always experience shameful results and backward growth of human capital in the governance of the economy from corporate sort of organisations.

The point I want to make clear is that it seems BoG have failed to plan and consolidate the workers in their policy to collapse those banks into a consolidated one. If such is the case then it is a serious Human Resource Management malpractice in terms of employees’ rights and responsibilities.

It would be a bad precedent for BoG to plan and consolidated those banks without necessarily laying out a process and procedure to deal with the affected employees with those banks. The essence of HRM is to reduce human suffering in a country if may be BoG is not aware. Hence, it is mandatory for BoG to include the employees losing their jobs in their policy properly and officially (must write specific generic letter to that effect to employees about their existence and recognition by BoG take over policy of those banks). This letter can be used by the employees to further deal with or work with the consolidated banks.

At the moment it seems the disgruntled employees are treated like less important in the BoG decisions to consolidate the banks. If so it is totally sad and unimaginable to think of. BoG ought to understand that we already have high unemployment rate in Ghana and it’s the government’s responsibility to provide enabling environment were all citizens can prosper but not the opposite. It seems it is only in Ghana and in Africa that government institutions are seen to be too powerful than the people it serves, if not, the right decisions must always be taken properly.

First of all, the BoG should have considered the total number of employees and then make a decision either to cut down (downsizing) some units or departments, which I don’t support as instant solution, or they could cut off staff/employees salaries across board upon discussing issues with them. The employees should have been engaged by BoG itself or its representatives it appointed to carry out the formation of the consolidated bank. This cutting off staff salaries is what I would go for considering the economic hardships in Ghana and not the latter.

But as it stands now, it seems BoG did not do their job well in trying to solve a national problem and upon which they are causing more problems to some Ghanaians is not the best decisions I would support as an expert professional in this circumstance.

I have read and watched some people saying that those affected employees complaining for their pay and other fringe benefits under the consolidated bank established by the regulator (BoG) should be considered as “earthquake”. This is an offence for any well meaning person to think like this assumption, I doubt if actually such people have experience in HRM practice professionally in relation to the international or global HRM.

It is bizarre and weird to say that the situation is like earthquake and that the affected employees cannot complain to the regulator (BoG), why? This is not right, are we living in no man’s land in Ghana? NO. I think if people don’t have the knowledge and experience to talk on this current problem in Ghana affecting the financial institutions like the banking sector, should decline to speak when approached.

From the HRM practice point of view, the first thing that BoG should have considered should have been to find out about the staff contracts in relations to the employer (the consolidated banks) contract terms and conditions of service policies. This is what BoG should have done first, it is not just about rushing to consolidate banks and then play ignorance about the affected employees, sad for the country.

After considering the contract terms and conditions of service policies on employees, they should have then decided to amend those policies or write new one completely to suit the problems they were having at hand. So now, which company policy are they implementing on staff employment or engagement? This is because it should not have been their interest to make employees redundant. It is the responsibility of the BoG to include the affected employees in a redundancy policy package that BoG can prepare. Though, not all staff may be qualified for a redundancy package but may be only their pay.

In the absent of these decisions by the BoG which I believe BoG is not above the laws and the constitution of Ghana, the affected employees can take BoG to Labour Commission as a group or individual to press for the right things to be done for them. At least the BoG should have considered the following steps in their decisions:

1. Total staff to be affected.

2. Consider their contracts of employment by their offer letters.

3. Consider employer contract terms and conditions of or for service on employees.

4. Make decision to cut staff numbers (downsizing) not even rightsizing yet or cut salaries of employees across board (must be discussed and agreed by parties).

5. Consider amending or writing new contract terms and conditions of or for service policies to suite the consolidated bank as new owners/managers/employer.

6. In an absent of these processes about the human resources, it’s against employee rights which is unfair.

Hence, the decision about the bank managers and the owners of those affected banks is just one aspect; affected employees must be satisfied. In view of all these, BoG have the opportunity to make most of Ghana financial institutions to work as proper corporate organisations, if not, I don’t think we have corporate organisations in Ghana but rather something else one could describe as life-goes-on-organisations.

BoG have taken away those bank managers and owners powers and responsibilities, therefore they are to take the organisational challenges too. May be what BoG first did was change management and so they should now consider doing the organisational change soon which can affect everybody in the organisation but not including all employees when conducting change management decisions.