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11.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Employees drag Bank to court over severance payment

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Accra, Oct. 11, GNA - An Accra Circuit Court presided over by Mr Williewise Kyeremeh on Monday adjourned to November 1, a case in which 32 former employees of the Societe-General Social Security Bank Limited have sued their former employers for failing to pay their severance package.

This followed an order on December 29, last year, by the court, ordering the Bank to pay the employees mostly drivers, who were dismissed during the Bank's redundancy exercise.

In that order, the Court directed the financial institution to pay the employees their accrued bonus for the year 2002.

The Court also directed the defendants to settle the cost awarded against them.

In an affidavit in support of their claim, the plaintiff stated that somewhere in 2002, the Bank sent a circular round, declaring its arboretum intension to undertake redundancy exercise and, therefore, requested that the employees should apply for voluntary retirement. The affidavit did not mention the amount of money involved.

The statement said upon their refusal to apply, the Bank, through its transport officer called a meeting, where the officer gave them a letter to them and asked them to sign, as having voluntarily accepted to be declared redundant.

It said the plaintiff's their refusal to sign the said document meant that their appointment with the Bank was to be terminated without any benefit being paid to them.

According to the statement, they were also informed that if they accepted to be declared redundant, a handsome severance package, then being negotiated was to be paid to them.

It said after accepting the interim package of one and half months of their salaries, the Bank refused to conclude negotiations for the top up package to be paid to them.

The accrued bonus for year 2002 was also denied them, after they had been declared redundant, it said.

In their statement of defence, the Defendants denied the entire allegation.

The Defendants said they embarked upon reorganization exercise in 2002, and informed its unionised employees that details of their separation package for those to be affected by the exercise was being negotiated between the defendants and the local Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU).

It said it commenced negotiations with the ICU in 2002 but the negotiations delayed, adding that plaintiffs were entitled only to the negotiated package.

It further stated that it could not pay the bonus of the other plaintiffs, since it did not know their contact addresses.

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