Sunon Asogli opposes NLC’s motion to enforce directives

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Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited
Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited

Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited says the termination of employment of three of its staff has nothing to do with their association with a union.

“There is no indication anywhere by the respondent (Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited) that it terminated the employment of the three employees for reasons relating to the joining of a union.

“The respondent only exercised its rights as an employer to terminate an employment contract with the said employees.

“The said termination of the employment contract between the respondent and the three employees has absolutely nothing to do with the queries issued to 34 employees or the unionisation of the employees in any way whatsoever,” it said.

In an affidavit in opposition to a motion for an order for enforcement of the directives of the National Labour Commission (NLC), (applicant in the case), Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited said it complied with the provision of Act 651 and the terms of the employment contract and paid salaries of the said employees in lieu of notice of termination.

According to the respondent it was unjust and inequitable for the NLC to rely on “only representations of the union to issue the said directive/ order without hearing the side of the respondent.”

The respondent said the NLC acted in excess of its jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by section 161 of Act 651 when it issued the directive/order dated on March 1, 2023 “to stay any other action that may be directly or indirectly related to the issues in dispute”.

The respondent said the instant application was unwarranted, unmeritorious, and total abuse of the court process because the time limit set by the NLC for the parties to try and resolve the matters amicably had not elapsed before the filing of the instant application.

The respondent, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the application to enable proper determination of the matter before the NLC.

It said the right of the respondent to terminate the employment contract of the three employees was “neither a breach of the fundamental human rights of the said employees to freely associate with any union of their choice nor a breach of any provision of Act 651 on unfair labour practice, as the said termination was not premised on any decision of the employees to join any union”.

“The respondent did not flout the directive of the applicant in any way whatsoever by the exercise of its rights to lawfully terminate the employment contracts,” it stressed.

The National Labour Commission (NLC) is court to ensure that Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited rescinded its decision to terminate the employment of members of a local union.

In a letter to the NLC (the applicant), Sunon Asogli Power Limited (the respondent) through its lawyers said: “It does not object to the joining of a union by any of its employees in as much as the joining of the union is the sole election of the employee.”

The letter said it objected to the manner the complainant (the Ghana Mineworkers Union) was going about the purported unionisation.

“The process by which the complainant is proceeding with the purported unionisation is contrary to the applicable statute as the due process provided for by the statute is being disregarded,” the letter said.

The NLC in an affidavit in support of its motion, said the Ghana Mineworkers Union of TUC had petitioned it against the respondent over unfair labour practice.

According to the NLC, its members were being coerced to leave the union.

Based on that, the NLC by a letter dated March 1, 2022, invited the respondent.
Without hearing from the respondent after seven days, the NLC said it issued a reminder to the respondent.

The respondent, through its lawyers, then responded.

The NLC said on April 27, 2022, it fixed a hearing for the matter, but the respondent could not attend.

The Commission then adjourned the matter but gave some directives.

It directed that the respondent recognised the Collective Bargaining Certificate (CBC).
“That the parties should constitute a Standing Negotiating Committee (SNC) to negotiate and resolve any disagreement they have, failing for which, they must report to the Commission.”

It said on June 16, 2023, the Commission received a joint letter from the parties indicating that they had not been able to reach an agreement in line with the directives of the NLC.

The NLC said on September 7, 2022, both parties agreed in principle to respect the CBC.
Consequently, the NLC said it directed the parties to submit a report jointly signed on the terms of settlement.

On October 11, 2022, the Union wrote to the Commission that the respondent was making it difficult for the implementation of the Commission’s directives.

After various meetings between the parties, a notice of industrial strike was served on the Commission.

The Commission said on receipt of the notice of strike, it asked the parties “to stay all intended strike actions”.

The NLC said on March 3, 2023, the Union wrote to it indicating that the respondent had been issuing threats and intimidating members of the local executives to the extent that three workers had had their employment terminated despite the Commission ‘s directive “to stay all intended actions”.

The NLC held that the said “termination of employment of the three employees was not justifiable in law”.

It said it breached the Labour Act provision of unfair labour practice and a breach of the fundamental human rights of employees to associate with unions of their choice.

Meanwhile an Accra High Court has adjourned to Thursday July 6, the hearing of a motion on notice to enforce the National Labour Commission’s decision in a complaint filed by the Ghana Mineworkers Union against Sunon Asogli Power Ghana Limited.

When the matter was called today, lawyers in the case approached the bench for a discussion.

The GNA later gathered that the court adjourned the matter to enable the NLC meet with leadership of the Trades Union Congress, who have vowed to embark on industrial strike on July 10, over the termination of employment of the three.

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