The case in which the management of Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) is challenging an arbitral award by the National Labour Commission (NLC) to pay redundancy compensation to the firm’s laid off workers, has been adjourned to November 10, 2020 by the Accra High Court (Labour Division).
The adjournment, made by the court today, is to enable both Counsel for the company and the affected workers to file written submissions to support their claims for the court to determine the case.
According to the court, presided by Justice Frank Aboagye Rockson, a date for ruling on the matter would be giving when the case resumes.
Before the case was called, the court adjourned sine die a related case in which the NLC is seeking the court’s intervention for enforcement of the arbitral award.
The indefinite adjournment, which was at the request of the Counsel for the NLC, Yehoda Kotey, is to pave way for the final determination of GCNet management’s affidavit challenging the award.
Charles Bawa-Duah, Counsel for GCNet management, who agreed with the request, said it was necessary for a stay of proceeding on the suit for arbitral award enforcement since the validity of that same award is being challenged by his client. The challenge to the award was filed in court first.
The management of GCNet, is praying the court to set aside the arbitral award, with the conviction that the award was not based on a fair adjudication process by the three member arbitration panel set up by the NLC.
According to the management, its claim of incapacity against the GCNet Staff Welfare Association, due to the fact the association is not a registered entity with a bargaining certificate, and therefore could not represent the workers, was ignored by the panel.
Disagreement over arrangements for the payment of compensation, including the capacity of the Welfare Staff Association to negotiate on behalf of some 148 affected workers, led the management and the workers to the Labour Commission, following which the Commission’s arbitration panel, in its September 14 award, ruled that the provisions in the company’s Human Resource Policy Manual should be used in paying the compensation to the redundant workers.
However, the management is challenging the award, since the involvement of the association, which is not a registered union and does not have a bargaining certificate, renders the use of the manual for redundancy compensation negotiation, illegal as it contravenes the provisions of the Labour Act on redundancy.
The remaining 50 workers thereafter embarked on an industrial action two weeks ago, but the Labour Commission, declared that action as illegal, and accordingly directed them to call off the strike, which they adhered.
The redundancy exercise was triggered by the government’s abrogation of its trade facilitation service contract with GCNet, effective May 31, 2020.
By Edmund Mingle/ www.adrdaily.com