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CLOGSAG considers seeking legal clarity on neutrality of ministers

BY: Caroline Boateng
Mr Isaac Bampoe-Addo,Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG
Mr Isaac Bampoe-Addo,Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG

The Civil and Local Government Service Association  of Ghana (CLOGSAG) is considering going to court to seek clarity on the status of ministers, who are not neutral in their work as heads of State ministries and agencies.

The association said several civil servants had been dismissed because they performed their work in a partisan way and also because of a Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the neutrality of the service.

Thus, it was unfair for political leaders or ministers to be partisan and remain in office.

The Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, Mr Isaac Bampoe-Addo, disclosed the court intention in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Tuesday.

Rule

Making reference to the ruling of the SC in CLOGSAG vs the Attorney General, Mr Bampoe-Addo said since that directive of the court in 2017, members found to be partisan had been dismissed.

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According to him, in some instances, executives of CLOGSAG had been heartbroken by the fact that a member had to be sacked and would have done all in their power to let the person keep his or her job.

However, because of the ruling, which was now law, they had to dismiss the person once found guilty.

"Is it then fair for a minister to act in a partisan manner in his duties and remain at post?" Mr Bampoe-Addo queried.

He was referring to a directive by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, who on December 5, 2018 transferred the acting Chief Labour Officer (CLO), Mr Eugene Narh Korletey, to the ministry as a Technical Advisor.

The minister, on January 15, 2019,  then directed the deputy CLO, Mr Francis Ofori Kwansah, to take over from him.

Mr Bampoe-Addo described the minister's action as discriminatory and smacking of political interference.

Labour laws

According to Mr Bampoe-Addo, by the labour laws of the country, the CLO was the technical advisor to the minister.

Therefore, for the minister to transfer his technical advisor to the ministry as a technical advisor was vague.

He added that only the Office of the Head of Civil Service (OHCS) had the posting authority over civil servants.

"If there were any challenges or if a staff did anything wrong, he or she had to be referred to the disciplinary committee," he added.

Secondly, Mr Bampoe-Addo said, the ministry in that directive kept on contradicting itself in all further communication to some of the parties involved in the matter and other labour unions.

That was because while introducing Mr Kwansah as the acting CLO, the minister had again communicated to Mr Kwansah himself, in February this year, after the previous letter asking him to act as CLO in January, that he could not act any longer because of pending disciplinary proceedings against him.

The issue of the disciplinary proceedings against Mr Kwansah was brought to the attention of the minister by the OHCS.

"We are watching the situation and will be going to court to seek clarity if the issue is not resolved according to the rules," he added.

Suit

Meanwhile, Mr Korletey has dragged the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to court over the matter.

In an application for a judicial review, the acting CLO, Mr Korletey, accused the minister of violating the Civil Service Regulations.

He stated that he had performed the role of Head of the Labour Department since 2013.

He said he attended a training seminar at Oak Plaza on September 4, 2018, which also had the minister in attendance.

He, however, received a query letter from the minister the next day, demanding an explanation about why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for allowing the Ghana Association of Private Employment Agencies (GHAPEA) to have access to the conference room of the Labour Department for a private business.

That was after his explanation that having been at the seminar, he could not have authorised the use of the conference room.

The applicant stated that to his surprise, he received a letter dated September 7, 2018 from the respondent (minister), reassigning him to the position of technical advisor on labour matters at the ministry.

Furthermore, on December 5, 2018, the minister wrote a letter appointing his deputy to take over the administration of the department and directing him (applicant) to cease interfering in works at the department.

Civil Service Act

The applicant contended that there was no such position as technical advisor in the Civil Service.

He said the appointing authority for the position of deputy CLO and acting CLO was the OHCS, thereby specifying the Civil Service Act 1993 as the legal basis for the creation of posts in the civil service.

The applicant is, therefore, calling on the court to quash the letter dated December 5, 2018 because it did not emanate from the Office of the Head of Civil Service and above all intended to remove him from the Civil Service and or reduce his rank without due process.

The Daily Graphic's investigation shows that the ministry, on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, wrote to the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) insisting that the earlier directive for the reassignment still stands.

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