Confusion rocks UNICOF as members ask leadership to resign

April 4, 2017
Source: Norvan Acquah - Hayford/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Confusion rocks UNICOF as members ask leadership to resign

There seem to be agitations within the Union of Commerce, Industry and Finance Workers (UNICOF) for the National Executives and Management Committee members to resign as questions have been raised over their competence and legitimacy.

The current volatile state of the once vibrant Union, the thebftonline.com understands, is as a result of some members of the Union calling for the National Executives and Management Committee led by the Deputy General Secretary John Senanu Amegashie, who is acting as General Secretary now and National Chairman of the Union Alex Nyarko – Opoku, to all resign honorably or be forced do so as per the Unions constitution.

The call for the resignation is as a result of revelation that, the National Executives and Management Committee erred in suspending and later dismissing the Unions General Secretary John Esiape last year.

The National Labour Commission (NLC) will on this Wednesday April 5, 2017 meet to rule on a petition by a member of the Union from the Tema region, Isaack Bondorin, filed against UNICOF for what he describes as the wrongful suspension and subsequently dismissal of the Union’s General Secretary John Esiape.

The NLC’s Executive Secretary, Charles Bawaduah, in a letter dated March 22, 2017 addressed to Mr. Bondorin, stated, “you are respectively invited to a hearing at the National Labour Commission on Wednesday 5th April, 2017 at 2pm.”

“This invitation is in accordance with section 139 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651,” the letter further stated.

In what is supposed to be the final hearing and ruling, the thebftonline.com understands the case was called as a result of a letter from the complainant Isaac Bondorin to the NLC pointing out that, the outcome of the ruling of his case would have an impact on the upcoming quadrennial delegates conference of UNICOF which has been slated for some time in July 2017.

Mr. Bondorin, who is an executive of the Union from its Tema region, is said to have the full backing of his colleagues from there. In his letter to the commission, he pointed out that by Article 21. 11(a) of UNICOF Constitution, “Where a member has a complaint which may affect the organization of the Quadrennial Delegates Conference, or where he is of the view that the Conference should not be held pending determination of the complaint, he shall lodge the complaint at least four (4) months before the proposed date of the Conference”. And by Article 7.3 of the same constitution, “Nominations for National offices shall open five months before the date of the conference and close three months to the date of the conference.”

The letter to the NLC in states that, “the case before the Commission is that UNICOF fundamentally failed to comply with its Grievance Procedure in handling the allegations against the General Secretary John Esiape”

He further pointed out that, “this is supported by evidence before the Commission and but the UNICOF’s own admission that, it failed to establish the constitutionally mandated body “Ad Hoc Complaints Committee” without which no case can be determined against any member or National Officer of UNICOF.”

In view of this, Mr. Bondorin according to his letter stated that, “thus, in my opinion, the General Secretary is legitimately in office and members of UNICOF need to be informed of same for them to consider nominating him with respect to the July 2017 Delegates Conference among other concerns.”

The case of John Esiape, the dismissed General Secretary of UNICOF, has been at the National Labour Commission for almost two years, citing wrongful interdiction, suspension and dismissal by the Union.

UNICOF’s U-turn on Suspension of GS

A letter dated July 15, 2016 and addressed to the Executive Secretary of the National Labour Commission (NLC), stated that “the Management Committee of UNICOF erred by suspending the General Secretary, John Esiape.”

Portions of the document sighted by the thebftonline.com read, “We hereby accept that we misdirected ourselves and changed the complainant’s interdiction to suspension.”

It added, “We shall therefore take the necessary steps to reverse the suspension to interdiction.”

This came after the lawyer for John Esiape, Prof. Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah in June 2016, petitioned the NLC over the wrongful application of the regulations on the interdiction and illegal suspension of his client.

Even though UNICOF agreed to withdraw the suspension, its Chairman, Alex Nyarko – Opoku insisted that, “there is nothing in the complainant’s conditions of service which can restrain any governing body or bodies of UNICOF from initiating disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Esiape.

Dismissal of John Esiape

Barely a month after UNICOF had apologised to the NLC hearing the petition from the General Secretary for wrongful suspension, the Union went ahead and expelled the General Secretary, John Esiape, without final ruling from Commission.

Another letter cited by thebftonline.com dated July 26, 2016, addressed to John Esiape and signed by the Chairman of UNICOF, Alex Nyarko – Opoku stated that the National Executive Council (NEC) has expelled John Esiape as the General Secretary due to gross misconduct.

The document stated that, “the NEC at a meeting held on 16th July, 2016, dismissed you as General Secretary and expelled you from the National Union by majority vote of 87% to 13% for gross misconduct arising from dishonesty, acting against the interest of the union and bringing the name of the union into disrepute.”

The document further stated, “the decision of NEC was based on a report of the panel of investigators that was constituted to determine the complaint lodged against you by the staff of the union.” According to the document, John Esiape’s dismissal was effective 16th July, 2016.

Meanwhile by the union's Constitution the grievance process was not concluded prior to the NEC meeting because the accused should have been served with a copy of the report for his reaction within 7 days before any decision could be taken.