The National Labour Commission (NLC), has directed the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), to place its Head of Corporate Banking, Mr Francis Chilly Agbeibor, on a grade of General Manager with retrospective effect from April 26, 2004.
The decision follows a ruling on a petition by the Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers (UNICOF) for the NLC to decide whether Mr Agbeibor had to remain on a lower grade assigned him by the management of the GCB or the grade he applied for in an internal advertisement.
The facts are that the GCB on December 12, 2003, posted an internal advertisement for the position of Head, Corporate Banking Division, which corresponded to the grade of general manager.
The petitioner, Mr Agbeibor, applied, was called for an interview and selected for the appointment.
His appointment letter of April 26, 2004, however, placed him on a lower grade of senior manager, instead of the advertised grade of general manager.
He, however, had similar job descriptions as those of a general manager.
Mr Agbeibor accepted the appointment but appealed twice to the Board of Directors of the bank to consider placing him on the grade of general manager, but the appeal was turned down.
Meanwhile, his appointment was confirmed on February 10, 2005, but was to take effect from May 17, 2004, that is, at the beginning of his six months probation period.
The petitioner then petitioned the Standing Negotiating Committee (SNC), of the GCB on July 14, 2006, which was unable to make any headway with the case.
Prior to that, the bank had posted another internal advertisement for the post of General Manager, Corporate Banking Division on March 1, 2006.
UNICOF, the umbrella organisation of the Professional Managerial Staff Union (PMSU) of the GCB of which Mr Agbeibor is a member, petitioned the NLC on the matter.
It sought that its member, Mr Agbeibor be appointed to the grade of General Manager, Corporate Banking Division with retrospective effect from May 24, 2004.
The NLC, realising that the parties had exhausted the negotiation process in settling the dispute, offered the parties the opportunity to resolve their differences through mediation, but that also failed.
The mater was referred for voluntary arbitration, which was consented to by UNICOF but not the GCB.
Consequently, the NLC, in accordance with section 138 of the Labour Law, held separate meetings with the disputing parties to establish common grounds for the resolution of the dispute.
It resulted in the management of the GCB offering to appoint Mr Agbeibor as the Head of the GCB Training School with the Grade of Deputy Chief Manager, as a compromise, but that was rejected by UNICOF, insisting on a definitive ruling on its petition.
The NLC, therefore, ruled on the matter.
In the ruling it conceded that management had the right to hire and place employees into specific roles and grades based on factors necessary for the success of the given role.
It said this discretion needed to be exercised by management as objectively as possible in line with generally known and accepted principles or conventions.
The NLC said the appointment letter of April 26, 2004 appointing Mr Agbeibor to the position of Head, Corporate Banking Division with the grade of Senior Manager was perfectly within the right of management.
The inconsistency, however, was the fact that while Mr Agbeibor had been taken on as Head, Corporate Banking Division, corresponding to the grade of Senior Manager, his job description was similar to the position and grade of Head, Corporate Banking Division, corresponding to the grade of General Manager.
“This apparent inconsistency regarding the said job description given the employee and the grade to which he was assigned, appears to be a breach of Section 68 of Ghana’s Labour Law which states thus; “Every worker shall receive equal pay for equal work without distinction of any kind.”
It said the management of the GCB would have perfectly been within its right to exercise its discretion to determine the employee’s job description relative to his grade if the job description had been amended to be consistent with the appointment of Head, Corporate Banking Division with the Grade of Senior Manager.
The NLC said the management, however, lost this right by virtue of their inconsistency in the job description attached to the appointment letter and that was worsened when it again on March 1, 2006, posted another internal advertisement for the same role as the one in dispute.
It said the second internal advertisement had the same job description as the one attached to Mr Agbeibor’s appointment letter of April 26, 2004.
DAILY GRAPHIC, MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2008, PG 63