The decision of the unionised staff of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to discontinue their industrial action has brought in a measure of relief to operators in the banking industry.
It is a fact that the bank has undergone a restructuring exercise and in the wake of it there were bound to be problems as far as conditions of service were concerned. However, it was important for the management to handle the issue with great care because of the implications of any industrial action.
Business transactions were bound to be affected, since cheques are cleared at the central bank.
Unlike some other countries where the association of bankers constitutes the clearing house, here it is the central bank which does that. Consequently, if the staff go on strike, the cascading effect could be enormous.
When there is an industrial action, the association of bankers is compelled to do manual clearing of cheques as a stop gap so that the system of effecting transactions does not collapse.
Apart from the clearing of cheques, some banks may also not have vaults which are big enough to contain all the money that they collect.
For many outside the central bank, the news that unionised staff were going on strike came as a shock because, for a long time, workers of the BoG had enjoyed good conditions under category A and a critical component of “essential services”.
As a human institution, there are bound to be problems which must be resolved with care and understanding.
The central bank is not a small enterprise perched at an obscure corner whose staff want to embark on strike.
Its international standing alone should not warrant such action from workers. By this, we do not mean that the workers may not necessarily have genuine grievances which must be addressed by management. What we imply is that they must respect the labour laws to win public support for their cause.
Such was the situation of the strike that Governor Paul Acquah had to cut short his stay in the US for the Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because the event was not pleasant.
It is unfortunate that workers and management of the bank could not dialogue effectively to avert what happened.
Now that the management and staff have been given one month to settle their differences, it is our humble plea that both parties will engage in open and genuine dialogue to find effective and common solutions.
We are confident that it is not beyond the capability of the management to sit down with the workers to iron out their differences. The nation cannot afford to see its central bank staff on strike.