The state-owned bank, Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) Limited, now known as GCB Bank, has been dragged to court by some of its underprivileged workers, whose right to earn a living has been violated in a slavery manner, akin to George Orwell’s epic book; Animal Farm.
The bank, has been dragged before an Accra High Court, Human Right Division by the workers, who feel they have been used and dumped by the bank, without recourse to their rights enshrined in the labour laws of the country.
The Herald, gathered that even though the workers number over three-hundred, only three individuals namely; Jonathan Ago Adei, Issaka Aliyu Abu and Michael Charway Okpoti, filed a writ against the management of the bank, led by Simon Dornoo.
This is happening at the time GCB is strategically rebranding to redeem its image from the public criticism of being a bank with poor customer care service delivery.
Meanwhile, the rebranding exercise, has been described as wasteful, and the amount spent on it said to be colossal and unnecessary. Poor network system, mass exodus of experience hands and dictatorial management style of the Managing Director (MD), Simon Donoo, continue to keep the government bank on its knees.
The workers, in their statement of claim said that “Defendant has deliberately taken advantage of the current economic hardships in the country coupled with the difficulty of getting a job to subject the Plaintiffs to various violations including violation of their constitutional rights”.
According to them, they joined and worked with the bank after National Service in November 2009, and worked with the bank until January 2010 when they were engaged by the management of the bank and given a 3-month contract, “they continued to work without any appointment letters for 26 months from 1st April 2010 to 31st May 2012 whiles defendant continued to pay plaintiffs a meager monthly salary of between GH¢200.00 and GH¢500.00 Ghana cedis”
According to the workers, having served the bank for 26 months, they communicated to the management that “their status have automatically changed into permanent workers and should be treated as such by operation of law” but shockingly, the management of the state bank “unlawfully brought another letter 7 months from 1st June to 31st December purporting to extend their casual status in a flagrant violations of the law”.
The underprivileged workers “categorically state that under protest and not having any alternative work they were compelled to work with Defendant even though that did not change their status as permanent employees of the Defendant”.
The writ said that “…. upon the expiration of unlawful contract, they worked with the Defendant until March 2013 when Defendant gave another 8 months contract from 1st March 2013 to 31st October 2013” disclosing how the GCB management “….again unlawfully extended that contract from 1st November 2013 to 31st December 2013”, adding that GCB “have been working with Defendant since January 2014”.
The workers insist “…that Defendant refusal to treat them as permanent employees constitute violation their constitutional and legal right” since they “….they work and achieve the same targets set for their permanent employee counterparts and they subjected to the same level of treatment”.
The bank, they revealed “…unlawfully continued to give them contract in purported extension of same in violation of the law”.
The workers said noted that the refusal of the management of the bank to treat them as permanent employees constitutes violation of their constitutional and legal rights revealing that the management of GCB, had at all times given assurance that appointment letters were going to be served them in confirmation of their acquired permanent status. Based on this representation, they continued to work tirelessly.
The workers argued “…that by law and labour practice they acquire the status of permanent workers and become legally entitled to be treated as such by the Defendant hence failure by the latter to treat them as such amounted to violation of their constitutional rights and legal rights”.
According to the writ filed on their behalf by SIMA Consultancy, “the continuous issuance of contract appointment letters to the Plaintiff does not derogate from the fact that Plaintiffs status has not changed as permanent workers”.
The workers further revealed that in “a letter dated 6th May, 2014, the Defendant requested another company, the CAPITAL GROUP to deploy the Plaintiffs to the Defendant’s employment as contract staffs”. Following this, Capital Group issued appointment letters to them offering already existing conditions of work or even worse, without their consent.
Interestingly, the “acceptance of the appointment from the Capital Group has been made a pre-condition for the payment of May 2014 salary to Plaintiffs” stressing that, “the actions of the Defendant are palpable violations of their economic, labour and constitutional right”.
They argued that, “by transferring them to Capital Group to be posted back to the Defendant as contract staffs, Defendant has resulted to unfair termination of their employment without recourse of law” because “Defendant has retained them on purported casual status against their will”.
“Plaintiffs’ case is that because of the representation made to them by the Defendant, Plaintiff have forborne any further studies and personal development plans”, the writ averred adding, since “Defendant have the capacity and the means to employ them but has deliberately and unlawfully treated them purportedly as casual workers in other to continue to cheat them”.
The workers insisted that management of GCB’s “…deliberate and unlawful treatment has caused them a great deal of embarrassment and economic hardship for all this years as they still continue to depend upon their parents who saw them through University for even basic needs”.
They mentioned that “their counterparts who are permanent workers of the Defendant earn an average income of over GH¢2,000.00 per month”, stressing that “Defendants have no Defence to this action”.
They are, therefore, asking the Human Rights Court to declare that the management of the GCB has violated their constitutional rights as well as a breach of the Labour.
They were also seeking a declaration that the GCB failed to treat them same way other permanent employees of the bank are treated and that, the “Allocation of Plaintiff to Capital Group for deployment back to the Defendant without their prior consent amounts to the unfair termination of the employment of the Plaintiff”.
Furthermore, “a declaration that Plaintiffs have by law attained permanent status as employees of the Defendant” including “an order directed at the Defendant to regularize the employment of the Plaintiffs”.
They are praying the court to give “an order directed at the Defendant to pay all differences in salaries and allowances from the day Plaintiff acquired a permanent status as employees of the Defendant to date of final judgment. An order directed at the Defendant to issue out letters of recommendation to the Plaintiff for any future employment drives.
An interim injunction to restrain the Defendant, it assigns, workmen, etc. from termination the appointment of the Plaintiff during the pendency of this matter”, including “general damages for violation of their rights and maltreatments and Cost”.
GCB has, however, swiftly responded to the writ vehemently denying all the claims made against it saying the workers were not entitled to the reliefs they are seeking from the Human Rights Court.
The GCB, defense filed by the banks Legal Services Division, stated that it never made any representation to the workers that they would be offered permanent employment adding, “the fact that they were contract/temporary staff did not stop them pursuing further studies and/or any further personal development”.
GCB, also filed a counter claim for unearned salaries paid to them on June 26, 2014.
More to come!