Management of Vodafone Warned

The National Executive of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), have warned that they would advise themselves if the management of Vodafone Ghana did not retract a letter issued to individual workers informing them of the compulsory redundancy and also inviting applications for voluntary exit. In a letter dated August 3, 2009, signed by Mr James Tetteh Lartey, General Secretary of CWU, and addressed to Mr Randell Hato, Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of Vodafone Ghana, the CWU requested that management should either comply with the earlier decisions of the Standing Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC) or have themselves to blame. "We request you to retract the said letter and comply with the earlier key decisions of the SJNC; failure of which we will advise ourselves," the letter said. The letter was copied to the Minister of Communications, Secretary-General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Minister of Employment and Social Welfare and National Labour Commission. One of the key decisions of the SJNC was that after management had completed putting together the "Business Transformation Plan" for Vodafone Ghana, it would first submit it to the leadership of the local CWU and other stakeholders for consideration before implementation. But management last Friday, July 31, 2009 unilaterally held a press conference to announce a compulsory redundancy plan, as part of the business transformation programme, without recourse to the parties in and the key decisions of the SJNC. On that same day, July 31, 2009, management distributed copies of a letter titled "Business Transformation Update" to individual workers informing them, among other things, of the compulsory redundancy of 950 workers by the close of November 2009. The letter, tagged "PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL" also said that management was willing to accept and consider applications for voluntary redundancy from individuals and treat them on case to case basis. Even though management admitted in the letter that the local union of the CWU had requested that workers covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement should be exempted from the further voluntary redundancy, they insisted that "it is critical that we give everyone a personal choice during these times of change." The CWU described the management letter to individual workers as 'provocative', 'vicious' and 'vexatious', saying it was unfortunate that management unilaterally decided to violate the key decisions of the SJNC, of which Mr Hato is still the Chairman. It said it was also unfortunate for Mr Hato to have attempted to undermine a statutory body as the SJNC, established under the Labour Act, 2003, to promote and sustain union-management co-existence. The letter said management had displayed an old-fashioned arrogance, intransigence and authoritarianism and given the signal that they were insensitive to the plight of ordinary Vodafone workers. "Management 'power-show-off' and unbridled authoritarianism are unacceptable in modern labour relations. "We regret to state that Vodafone management does not respect the application of due process and procedures of consultation on matters which are crucial and critical regarding the welfare of the employees," it said. The CWU reminded Vodafone management that the company was not wholly owned by Vodafone and that the contribution and opinion of the minority shareholder, the government of Ghana, was equally significant in the promotion of sound and healthy labour relations. The letter advised the Vodafone management to stick to the rules and regulations governing union-management relations and reminded them that the workers had demonstrated maturity in dealing successfully with previous managements of the company and that should be respected. The government of Ghana, the minority shareholder, owns 30 per cent in Vodafone Ghana.