Staff of Merchant Bank yesterday embarked on a nationwide strike over the bank’s refusal to reinstate Rev. Jonas Koranteng-Smart, its local union chairman, after he was wrongfully dismissed by the board.
Clad in red arm bands, the workers called for the removal of the company’s board of directors.
The reinstatement of Rev. Koranteng-Smart was ordered by the National Labour Commission (NLA) after the bank terminated the union chairman’s appointment on June 5, 2012.
Francis Kofi Davor, General Secretary of the Union of Industry Commerce and Finance Workers (UNICOF), who declared the strike yesterday, told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that the local union chairman was dismissed because he had informed unionized members about the outcome of the bank’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on March 27, 2012.
“Rev. Koranteng-Smart only reported what transpired at the AGM, so we do not understand why the board asked him to appear before the disciplinary committee which UNICOF asked him not to.”
He noted that Rev. Koranteng-Smart had been critical of some policies of the bank and its unimpressive performance.
“If union leaders and workers’ representatives will act in their capacity as such, and the first port of call is the disciplinary committee, then apart from the fact that no one will have the confidence as a union leader to challenge management or fully and frankly represent the social and economic interest of the workers, no one will even want to lead and this amounts to a tacit non recognition of the union,” a press statement from UNICOF said.
Mr. Davor said even though the union took the matter to NLC, which ruled that the chairman should be reinstated, the board refused to do so.
He said in addition to its “bad” industrial relations practices, management has poorly managed the bank.
He alleged that “the board has virtually taken over the day-to-day management of the bank so that it can justify its regular meetings and sitting allowances. Also, it has eroded by half the net worth it inherited as at December 2008 from GH˘62,445,000.00 to GH˘31,323,000.00 as at June 2012. Furthermore, allegations of conflict of interest are rife among senior personnel while an amount of $1,250,000.00 has supposedly been used by the bank to purchase a house for the MD. This has remained unoccupied since 2010. Additionally, the bank has acquired 20 brand new cars for what it called direct sales but has grounded them within two years of their acquisition.”
He however apologized to the bank’s customers for the inconvenience the strike action would cause them.
It would be recalled that in August, this year, Merchant Bank announced that it had accepted a GH˘176.4 million offer from South Africa’s second biggest financial institution, FirstRand in exchange for a 75 percent stake in the bank.
Source: Esther Awuah/D-Guide
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