Ghana National Fire Service defies Court Order

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…as it refuses to compensate and sign-on sacked officers

…But management says process is procedural

Ghananewsonline.com.gh has gathered that four clear months after an Accra Human Rights High Court had ordered that the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) reinstate and compensate two female officers for wrongful dismissal in 2013 and 2014 respectively, the service has remained adamant as the plight of the two officers still hang in the balance.

They have neither been reinstated nor compensated yet as directed by the courts, and they continue to ‘rot’ in the house. The two female officers are Thelma Hammond and Grace Fosu.

According to our information the two officers were respectfully slapped with dismissal by the Service in the years stated above.

Their crime?

According to the service, the two had gotten pregnant within the first three years of their employment into the Service. This, the Service maintained, was in contravention of Regulation 33(6) of the condition of service for the GNFS which debars newly employed female officers from getting pregnant before the end of the third year of employment into the Service.

Therefore having violated this regulation, they needed nothing except a sack, which was accordingly slapped on them.

Irony

We gathered further that Grace and Thelma were not the only newly employed females who violated this regulation at that point in time, and that there were others.

However, as fate would have it for them, on June 12, 2014, GNFS recalled all the other “offending” female officers, permitted them to wear maternity dress to work, gave them maternity leave, but to Grace and Thelma, the Service gave them a straight sack! Left with no other alternative, the two victims had to brace the new storm in their lives by taking to selling ice water to fend for themselves and their pregnancies, a situation that gave them a hell of time, wearing them off as pregnant women. As supplement to their new income, the two, we gathered, also had to live on the largess of others.

CHRAJ and Court to the rescue

Unhappy with this development, the two victims petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) which upheld that their dismissal was a flippant abuse and violation of their Human Rights. CHRAJ in turn sued GNFS and the Attorney General (AG) at the Accra Human Rights High Court.

Court’s Decision

The court, presided over by His Lordship, Justice Antony Yeboah, in its ruling on 23/4/18 upheld that Regulation 33(6) of the condition of service of GNFS is discriminately in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal. The court subsequently ruled that the two were dismissed illegally and should therefore be compensated with GH¢50,000 = each. Besides they should be reinstated with immediate effect and also all their salaries and entitlements, benefits accrued within the period be paid them.

The court also awarded cost of GH¢10,000 against GNFS. Strangely enough, the service has neither heeded to any of the directives of the court. A situation observers see as flippant defiance of the court order.

Condition of service for GNFS not Gazzeted?

According to our information, the condition of service for GNFS, which includes Regulation 33(6), with which these female officers were dismissed, has not yet been gazetted. Its application, therefore, as upheld by the august court, was not only illegal, but also illegitimate and unjustifiable.

Angry officers blame CFO

It has further been gathered that some officers at the service are so angry that they have no reservations pointing accusing fingers at the New Ag Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Edward Ekow Blankson for what they described as a mess. According to them, the CFO was listening to the advice of “failed officers” at the place, hence this predicament.

They argued that it was the same officers, who had caused this unpleasant plight to the service. It was therefore their prayer that stiffer punishment could be visited on the service to enable administrative officers at the place sit upright and do the right thing.

When the Public Relations Department of the service was contacted last Wednesday, August 8, 2018, a spokesman, Mr. Ellis Robinson Okoh indicated that the Council (Board of Directors) of the Service was in a crunch meeting with the Attorney General, lawyers of the victims and other stakeholders that fateful day to decide on the issue.

He expressed optimism that something positive would come out of that meeting. “After all, they are our sisters and we cannot afford to go hungry,” he said.

Asked why this long time, he stated that the process was procedural, as they had to do due diligence, as has been the practice of the Public service. This is because they cannot re-call or re-instate them with word of mouth, and that the due process had to be followed. As such, all should exercise restraints for the outcome of the meeting.

Asked if the service would go for an appeal (whose time laps had passed though) he answered in the negative, stressing that this was a court decision and the service had to abide by it at all cost.

On the question as to whether the condition of service of GNFS had been gazette, he pointed out that the Service does not have a Constitutional Instrument (CI) as that of the police, so their condition of service does not need to gazette.

Meanwhile, we had gathered further that ever since the court ruling about four (4) months ago, lawyers of the victims, through the court had written severally to the service without the (service) minding to respond, Mr. Ellis Okoh replied in the negative, maintaining that it was only the lawyers who could speak on this matter.

What is more, he had returned to office from a transfer to the Central Region barely three months ago, as such he wasn’t that conversant with these developments, as the substantive PRO. Mr. James Oheneba Kwarteng was on leaf.

Source: S.O Ankamah

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