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08.06.2004 General News

CHRAJ cannot compel employers to employ dismissed staff

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Koforidua, June 8, GNA - A member of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), Mr Christian Appiah Agyei has stated that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has no power to compel employers to keep or re-instate an employee who petitioned it, seeking redress for unfair labour practice.

According to him, since the CHRAJ could only recommend reparations for such aggrieved employees, the Commission should reconsider creating the impression of compelling employers to reinstate workers, which directives, he noted, was invariably not being complied with.

Mr Appiah Agyei was commenting on the case in which a dismissed driver of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Mr Augustine Kwame Serebuor testified before the NRC over the refusal of the company to comply with a CHRAJ directive to rescind its decision to dismiss him following an accident he had with a company vehicle while performing official duties.

Mr Serebuor had earlier told the Commission that sometime in 1988, after he had closed from work at 1730hours, the Chief Security Officer of the Koforidua office of the company, one James Adeu, ordered him from his house to drive him to New Tafo for an emergency official duty. He said he insisted on the approval from the Transport Officer before he could go but when they could not find him in his house, the Chief Security Officer said he had logged the trip so they should go and he agreed to drive him there.

According to the petitioner, while they were on the way to New Tafo, the officer told him he lied about the purpose of the trip but that it was a private errand.

Mr Serebuor said on their return journey, the vehicle got involved in an accident in which they sustained minor injuries and were admitted at the Tafo Government Hospital overnight.

He said following investigations into the case by officials of the Company, he was penalized with dismissal but Adeu was only reprimanded. Mr Serebuor said when he petitioned the CHRAJ, it recommended to the GWCL to reinstate him but despite persistent reminders, the Company refused to comply and he was also not paid any benefit for his 14-year service.

A former Kwahu South District Vice Chairman of a vigilante group in the Limann Administration, Mr Seth Kwabena Boye, told the Commission that he had lost his left eye following assault on him by a soldier at the Nsawam Prisons following his arrest and detention after the overthrow of the Third Republic in December 1981.

Soon after the coup d'etat, he was invited by soldiers to report at the Abetifi Police Station where he was detained for 13 days and released but was re-arrested a few days later and transferred to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

Mr Boye said on arrival at the prisons, a soldier who ordered him to open his suitcase saw a shaving stick among his belongings and gave him two slaps as he described him as a wicked man. Another soldier then asked him to pack his items back after learning he was a Kwahu man, but that infuriated the other soldier, who rushed on him and rained blows on him in the face causing injuries to his eyes and head.

Mr Boye said even though he received treatment at the Prisons Infirmary during his six months' detention and later continued at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital after his release. The condition of the left eye worsened until he became blind in 1988.

A former Divisional Officer Two of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Mr Emmanuel Sarpong Okata, told the Commission that he was demoted to a Fireman and retired in 1989, for ordering the use of the Akosombo Fire Station's fire engine to go on an unofficial errand resulting in an accident.

He recalled that, following investigations into the accident, he was informed in July 1989 to either retire or be dismissed for which he chose to retire at 57 years at the time with 28 years of service. According to Mr Okata, when he went for his retirement benefit at the Accountant General's Department, he learnt to his shock that he was rather put on the SSNIT pension scheme and paid 6,000 cedis monthly pension, saying even though he petitioned the authorities against the injustice nothing had been done about it.

A member of the Commission, Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, who noted on examining his petitions that there was a mixed-up in the dismissal letters to both Mr Okata and the former driver of the fire tender and promised that the Commission would take up the case for a redress in the retirement benefit, since he could not be punished twice.

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