90 redundant Coca-Cola workers filecomplaint at Labour Commission

Ninety former employees of Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Ghana have filed a complaint against the company at the National Labour Commission asking the Commission to compel their employers to pay them three months redundancy package.

The complainants, led by Mr Emmanuel Adable, brought the instant action against Coca-Cola for allegedly forcing them to resign without paying their redundancy compensation.

They stated that the non-payment of the package was in contravention of article 57(c) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which requires that Coca-Cola pays a severance award of three and half months’ salary for each completed year.

The complainants, whose employment subsisted from 1995 to 2019 and governed  by the CBA, is urging the Commission to compel the company to pay them the redundancy package  of three months pursuant  to article 57(c) of the CBA, plus interest at the prevailing commercial bank rate and legal cost.

They were being represented by Daniel Kupualor of Paintsil, Paintsil and Co. Goshen Chambers, Accra.

The complainants alleged that Coca-Cola, acting through its human resource coerced them by using threats and inducements to sign their own resignation letters.

They said that they signed the resignation letters as the threats persisted, noting that the company did so to avoid paying the redundancy compensation.

“For employees in Accra, the resignation letters were prepared by Coca-Cola and given them to sign,” the complainants stated, adding that the company gave them what was referred as “Golden Handshake.”

The Golden Handshake were monies given to complainants which fell short of the redundancy package  having regard to the number of years that the complainants had worked for Coca-Cola.

The complainants said they caused their lawyers to officially write to Coca-Cola demanding the entire redundancy package which the company responded and denied liability.

It must be noted that article 57 (a) of the Union Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers provides that where there are more employees than needed on jobs and it is necessary to reduce personnel, the company shall re-deploy them to meet the work requirement under the new conditions. If in connection with such re-organisation it is necessary to declare a number of employees redundant, those employees to be affected shall be  at the sole discretion of management.

Importantly, clause (c) of the above article stipulates that employees who are declared redundant shall receive severance award at the rate of three and a half months salary for each completed year of service or pro-rata.

These formed the grounds for which the complainants have argued that they have been short-changed by their employees, who had forced them to resign without paying them their due compensation.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the complainants have served notice on the company that it would take legal action against the company to recover the amount due with interest if they failed to pay the severance award in accordance with provisions under the CBA.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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