Thursday, September 13, 2012

Board, management of Merchant Bank must go - UNICOF

September 12, 2012 (Page 28) THE Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers Union (UNICOF) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for the immediate dissolution of the board and Management of Merchant Bank on grounds of incompetence and financial mismanagement. Describing the management and board as “incompetent and short-sighted”, the group has indicted the board and management for wrongfully dismissing its local Chairman, Rev. Jonas Koranteng-Smart, for performing his union duties and also refusing to heed the National Labour Commission’s (NLC) order to reinstate him. It has accordingly directed its members across the country to wear red bands, remain vigilant to signify their disapproval of affairs at the Merchant Bank and wait for further directives from the UNICOF leadership. Addressing a news conference in Accra today, the General Secretary of UNICOF, Mr Kofi Davoh, said the union had communicated its intention to embark on a strike action to the NLC and indicated that the date for the commencement of the strike action will be communicated in due course. He levelled several allegations against the board and management of the bank which included conflict of interest, cronyism, waste of funds and arbitrariness among others. According to Mr Davoh, the bank had rented several office spaces across the country with thousands of cedis but most of these buildings remained unoccupied until the leases expired and further pointed out “the bank acquired brand new cars for what it called direct sales and grounded them within two years of their acquisition.” Touching on the dismissal of the Chairman of the Professional and Management Staff Union (PMSU), Mr Davoh noted that “croynism is rife among the senior management team and even where a senior manager violates his professional code by overdrawing his account six times and which violation should be immediately lead to his dismissal as the regulation requires, he has been covered and a workers leader terminated for performing his legitimate duties”. The General Secretary also accused the management of conflict of interest and cited instances where some senior management personnel “instead of devoting all their attention to the bank are running similar and competitive organisation.” According to Mr Davoh, who together with other members of UNICOF looked visibly upset, the management had allegedly purchased a $1.250, 000.00 house for the Managing Director which remained unoccupied for the past two years. He also accused the board of virtually taking over the running of the company in order to accrue more sitting allowances adding “the board has eroded half the net worth they inherited as at December 2008 from GHC62,445,000.00 to GHC31,323,000.00 as at June 2012.” As a result of the foregoing, the UNICOF has declared its intention “to engage in a struggle not only to protect our trade union rights – which are also human rights but to protect the hen that lays the golden egg adding “the current management and board cannot under any guises be allowed to continue operating in the bank.” On his part, the General Secretary of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, told reporters after the news conference that the termination of the local Chairman’s appointment was in bad faith. “The termination was distasteful. The management must ensure the wrong is righted,” he maintained and explained that the TUC was working round the clock to ensure the reinstatement of Rev. Koranteng-Smart. Mr Asamoah urged employers to respect and tolerate union representatives since they were protected under the laws of the country. He also stated that the current agitations on the labour front must be addressed holistically by all stakeholders.

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