The National Labour Commission (NLC) on Wednesday asked the management of Vodafone to suspend its compulsory redundancy exercise until further notice, an official of NLC told the GNA.
“The commission has directed the management of Vodafone to stay action on the compulsory redundancy exercise until further notice,” Mr. Mohammed Affum, Public Relations Officer of NLC said. He said the directive came after management of Vodafone had informed the Commission that it had planned to meet the workers on September 24, 2009 concerning the exercise.
This was during a meeting convened by the NLC to find a lasting solution to the Vodafone compulsory redundancy saga. Mr. Affum said the commission also directed both management and union of the company to report back to it on September 30, 2009.
If at that time the matter had been resolved between the two parties, it would be considered as ended but if not the Commission would take a final decision on the matter. Management of Vodafone is yet to submit a response to the Commission regarding the petition of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which the commission wrote to management.
According to Mr. Affum, the NLC’s directive did not necessarily mean that the letters given to persons earmarked for redundancy were invalid, adding that, that would be determined on September 30, 2009 when both parties meet the Commission.
After weeks of a tug-of-war between Vodafone management, the local union, national CWU and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) over the attempt of management to compulsorily lay off 950 workers, management finally issued letters to individuals earmarked to be laid off, including local and national union leaders, on Wednesday September 9, 2009, asking them to prepare to exit by December this year.
Prior to the issuance of the letters the union had criticised the procedure management was using as autocratic and a violation of workers’ rights, citing management’s disregard for binding decisions taken at a Standing Joint Negotiation Committee.
Following the complaints of the union and TUC, an inter-ministerial team, comprising representatives of the Ministries of Communications and Employment and Social Welfare, intervened but failed to yield amicable resolution.
Last Monday, September 14, 2009, a tripartite meeting between the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, Vodafone management and the CWU/TUC also failed to yield any results, and union decided to petition NLC for final resolution.
Earlier, Major Albert Don-Chebe (Rtd), Head of Corporate Communications, had said that the union, through their actions and inactions were buying time to push the issuance of exit letters to workers beyond September to make nonsense the three month notice requirement before the carrying out of redundancy.
If the letters issued on September 9, 2009 were declared invalid by the NLC, it becomes impossible for anybody to be laid off at Vodafone by December 2009, and that, according to Maj. Don-Chebe could protract the redundancy exercise.
He explained that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between unionised workers and management would be fully re-negotiated in December 2009, at which time management was hoping to have laid off all persons earmarked for redundancy.
But with the current directive of the NLC, a huge battle could be staring Vodafone management in the face come December 2009.
Mr. David Clottey, National Chairman of CWU, told GNA that this far, the NLC had asked management to return to due process, but that did not leave room for speculation that the letters issued to workers on September 9, 2009 were invalid.
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