An Accra High Court has dismissed a legal action by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET) at the Labour Division of the Court, appealing to set aside an arbitration award for some 150 redundant staff of the company.
The management of Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) says it is prepared to pay redundancy compensation to its laid-off workers following legal processes.
According to a statement issued by the management of the company, they will explore all legal remedies and appeal to the courts ruling before any payment is made to the staffs.
“We are eager to complete the adjudication process so that we can execute the compensation payments in an appropriate manner,” they said.
The Managing Director of GCNET, Alwin Hoegerle, explained that the anomalies detected in basing the compensation calculation on the company’s Human Resource policy manual, for which the management sent the matter to the NLC and the High Court, have to be rectified so as not to make it difficult for the government to honour its obligation in settling the bill.
Arguing in Court, the company said the arbitration award was null and void because the group GCNET Staff Welfare Association lacked the capacity to represent the workers because it was not registered as a statutory body and neither was it registered with Chief Labour Officer as a trade union.
Meanwhile, the Court in its ruling held that GCNET must pay the redundancy packages as contained in the Human Resource manual of the company because the redundancy package was already predetermined since it was stated in a Memorandum Of Understanding that the Staff Association and GCNET were for the implementation of the redundancy exercise and not for negotiation.
GCNET is an information technology firm that facilitates trade services at the country’s ports and had a contract with the government that was expected to run until 2023.
In April 2020, the government terminated the contract leading to a shutdown of its operations in May 2020, this was because the government said it was going to roll out a new custom clearing system, called Uni-Pass which would centralize the processing and handling of all import and export documentation, a system known as single window clearing.
This resulted in GCNET laying off its staff and accordingly notified the Chief Labour Officer of it’s intended redundancy exercise.
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, 2020 award, ruled that the provisions in the company’s Human Resource Policy Manual should be used in paying the compensation to the redundant workers.