Business News of 2013-12-19

IDA workers paid GH¢124,218 severance package

The insistence on a better severance package by 117 workers of the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) who were laid off in a retrenchment exercise in 1988, resulted in their being paid a total of GH¢124,218.30, the Judgment Debt Commission sitting in Accra last Tuesday, heard.

Although it took 18 years of various processes and court proceedings to finally land what they believed was due them, the dissatisfied ex-workers were able to first convince the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and then the courts to rule in their favour.

Facts of the case

Narrating the facts of the case to the Judgment Debt Commission presided over by Justice Yaw Apau, Mr Patrick Osei Owusu, Director, Administration, IDA, said in 1987, the government instituted a retrenchment exercise to downsize the number of workers in government institutions, which included workers of the IDA.

He said the government gave a package of four months’ salary as a severance award (in a onetime payment) to all workers who were laid off and an end of employment payment equal to two months’ salary for every year worked, while all salary arrears were cancelled.

Mr Osei Owusu said although members of the 1988 batch of redeployees were given that amount, they expressed their dissatisfaction with the package.

He said the workers then took the IDA to CHRAJ, took the Attorney General to court and eventually joined the IDA to the suit at the High Court where judgment was given in favour of the workers, and which led to their appearance at the Judgment Debt Commission.

Mr Osei Owusu, however, refuted the assertion of the workers that their severance pays were not well computed, saying the IDA did not have any authority to vary the package.

Severance package

The IDA official explained that from 1988 to 1994, the government established a staff ceiling every year and reduced the staff strength accordingly, as part of the exercise to cut down the number of employees, and details of staff to be deployed were sent to the special redeployment office at the Ministry of Labour and Mobilisation.

He said it was the special office that worked out the package and authorised the Controller and Accountant General to effect payment.

According to Mr Osei Owusu, the former IDA employees went to court even though the government believed it had fulfilled all commitments to them, because they said according to the terms and working conditions of IDA they were rather entitled to four months’ salary for each year of service rather than the two months awarded them.

“My Lord not even the directors or chief executives were entitled to such,” he said. Mr Owusu said despite documentation provided by the IDA to counter that assertion, the workers’ request was granted by CHRAJ and their failure to pay the amount to the workers resulted in them being taken to court