By Alfred Dogbey
A vicious move by eProcess International SA, owned by the Ecobank Group to ‘use and dump’ one of its dedicated employee, despite his enormous sacrifices, has landed the company in the law court for wrongful termination of his employment.
Erasmus Nii Amoo Akushie’s lawyers, have described the action by Ecobank as “mischievous and deliberate” ploy to victimize him in the name of redundancy. This was after exposing certain technical and managerial deficiencies in the administration of the international bank.
Prior to his dismissal as Head of Group Card Insurance, he had helped saved several millions of US dollars for the bank, which has been a victim of ATM fraud, due to huge lapses in its ATM operations. But despite these, he was denied his promotion for four years without any reason, while others mainly foreign nationals enjoyed a jolly rise in career and the remuneration that comes with it.
The Herald, is informed that unlawful dismissals are very rampant in Ecobank, but this appears to be the boldest decision yet by any disgruntled employee to drag the company to the law court to offer some explanation.
Mr. Akushie’s lawyers, argued that, the respected bank sacked him after convincing him to leave his successful career at Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Limited, to setup Ecobank’s Two million Dollar Card Insurance facility.
He was poached from his former employers in 2011, after numerous pleas from Ecobank to help standardize and restructure the existing Card Insurance Bureau to meet the international standards. The new setup now enables Ecobank to produce Chip Cards for Ecobank Group in all the African Countries where it operates.
The Herald, has sighted a writ, dated December 14, last year filed at the Accra High Court Industrial Division by Mr. Akushie’s lawyer, Kofi Somuah of LithurBrew & Co Chambers, owned by renowned lawyer, Tonny Lithur and Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong, the current Attorney General and Minister of Jusitce.
Mr. Akushie in the writ insisted that “throughout his employment with Defendant, he offered flawless services to Defendant, was never reprimanded, queried or warned about his output or commitment to work”, adding he rather “…he contributed immensely in improving the operations” of Ecobank.
He explained that he was asked by the Group Head, Operations to defer his 2012 annual leave, which he agreed, but subsequently requested that he be allowed to take his annual leave, but the request infuriated his superior officer, Margaret Bekker, which eventually led to his dismissal.
The aggrieved worker said, his request for leave which he is legally entitled was denied despite numerous pleas from him in 2012.
Mr. Akushie also said during a meeting in or about June 2013, he exposed poor professional judgment on the part of his boss, regarding the recruitment of staff into sensitive positions in the card insurance bureau, which his superior officers did not take kindly to.
According to the writ, “in January 2014, while Plaintiff was on leave, he was deliberately and mischievously removed from his position as Head of Group Card Insurance to a position comparable to a Personal Assistance which does not match his professional skills and qualifications, in a mischievous attempt to frustrate him”.
Mr. Akushie narrates that, his academic qualifications and his practical experiences, constantly exposed the incompetence of Margaret Bekker, his immediate boss and her insecurity heightened her resentment for him, stressing that “the purported redundancy was premeditated and amounts to unfair termination”.
The lawyers said that the bank’s lack of supervision of Mr. Akushie’s boss, Margaret Bekker, and the absence of a defined process for redundancy contributed to the unfair treatment and unfair termination of employment.
The aggrieved worker, also disclosed that prior to this incident, the said Margret Bekker, appraised him in a manner inconsistence with the laid down policies of Ecobank and asked him to sign the appraisal for onward submission to the Human Resource Department”.
Mr. Akushie said, he refused to sign and gave documented reasons for his refusal to endorse the arbitrary and subjective appraisal.
The appraisal, has not been concluded to date, because by refusing to sign the appraisal document, he thwarted the carefully planned design to rate him poorly and set him up for dismissal.
The writ avers that the plot was condoned by the Human Resource Department.
He also lamented how after the hard work that went into building the US$2 million facility for the Ecobank Group, he was denied promotion for nearly 4 years because the Ecobank’s appraisal and promotion system is subjective and created room for discrimination and unfair treatment. The decision promote a staff is left to a boss which might not like him or her.
According to Mr. Akushie, the Human Resource Manager, only called him to be ready for a letter. Surprisingly, he “was asked on the same day to hand over his access card, complete exit formalities and not to report to work, since his position has been optimized and he had been made redundant”.
Among other things, the aggrieved worker’s lawyers said, “the failure of the Defendant to give the requisite notice and to negotiate with Plaintiff in the absence of agreed modalities for making redundancy payments to employees is in breach of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651(the Labour Act) and other relevant statues”.
They insisted that “his position as Head of Card Performance and Training was an empty position which was craftily imposed on him to set the stage for his dismissal from the company” adding that ,“he was simply victimized by Defendant and Defendant’s action is not only discriminatory but amounts to unfair termination and unlawful redundancy”.
“The so called redundancy process is shrouded in subjectivity and that Plaintiff exit from Defendant Company is the direct result of victimization”, the writ said.
It emphasized that about thirty (30) employees were declared redundant and the system used by Defendant was not uniform and was also unfair, as varying packages were given to employees of similar category.
Mr. Akushie’s writ was emphatic that the redundancy and/ or termination was done in violation or beach of the relevant statutes adding “as part his terms of employment he, his wife and children had their health needs taken care of by Defendant and sudden turn of event had lead to him spending huge sums of money to take care of the health needs of his immediate family”.
He is, therefore, seeking “a declaration that the purported redundancy exercise amounts to unlawful termination of his employment.
He wants the court to issue an order for Ecobank to pay him three months salary in lieu of notice, starting from the date of the notice or from December 2014 to February 2015.
Additionally, he is also demanding Gratuity Pay at the rate of Nine (9) months of his Gross salary for each complete year served apart from his Severance Pay at the rate of 9 months Gross Salary for every year worked.”
He also wants the court to order the bank to absolve his car loan”.
Mr. Akushie is also seeking “general damages for unlawful termination, discrimination and unlawful redundancy”, as well as an order for all his medical bills, spouse and children, pending the determination of the suit” since because the redundancy exercise violates the Labour Act 2003, Act 651 and is therefore unlawful.