Coca-Cola workers protest over unfair dismissal of colleagues

Workers of the Coca-Cola bottling company Limited have protested against management following the alleged dismissal of about 30 colleagues.

The workers clad in red headbands and holding placards said management did not follow due process in laying off the 30 workers.

“In our history, this is the first time an employer lays off workers without using due process. The law requires that when a company is going to carry out such an exercise, the number of people to be affected should be known.

“Again, the criteria of selection for those to be laid off should be set clearly. All these processes have not been done.

“And to think that they issued a letter admitting to not following due process, this does not create a safe environment for any worker here,” the General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Union, Solomon Kotei said to Citi FM.

RELATED: Coca-Cola To Cut 4,000 Jobs

Mr Kotei assured the protesting staff that the union will ensure justice is served to the workers.

“Our mission here is to get management of Coca-Cola to do the right thing,” he assured.

The protest comes on the back of a letter dated August 31, last year, which indicated how the novel coronavirus was having a toll on the company.

The letter signed by the Business Unit Managing Director, Felix Gomis notified the staff of an impending step to lay off its workers.

Per the statement, the declaration of redundancy had come about due to challenges faced by the company over the years which had “exacerbated by the COVID-19 scourge and the numerous actions experienced in the last few months”.

“In accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of the Labour Act 2003 (ACT 651), management has notified the Chief Labour Officer of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations of the company’s intention to declare a redundancy which will affect the employment of a number of employees,” excerpts of the statement stated.

It, however, added that the said redundancy will be implemented after leadership of the respective trade unions have agreed to the terms of the severance package.

On September 3, last year, the company again announced that it would soon lay off its workers as it continued to struggle to stand on its feet in the wake of the outbreak.

Impact of COVID-19 on the job market

The novel virus has caused a drastic change in most sectors of the economy since Ghana recorded its first case on March 12, this year.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 is profoundly being felt in the pockets of Ghanaians with as many as 500,000 jobs lost.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates 100,000 lost jobs in the formal sector and 400,000 being wiped off in the informal sector after an evaluation of the market.

READ ALSO: Africa’s Aviation sector job losses

Similarly, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) reported over 41,000 job losses in its Business Tracker Survey.

The figure represents 4% of the workforce of 4,311 firms involved in the survey from May 26 to June 27, 2020.

“Only 4.0% of firms indicate that they have laid-off workers, corresponding to 1.4% of the workforce (an estimated 41,952 workers).

“Also, 46.1% of business establishments reported that they reduced wages for 25.7% of the workforce (an estimated 770,124 workers),” the report said.

A study by the African Union (AU) recently estimated up to 20 million jobs at risk due to the coronavirus.

The African Development Bank had projected GDP growth of 3.4% before the outbreak, but AU economists have predicted a 0.8% drop.

READ ALSO: 500,000 people rendered jobless amid coronavirus outbreak

Elsewhere, The Guardian reported in May that the number of workers who lost their jobs in the US soared to more than 40 million as the number of unemployment claims continued to rise, with 2.1 million people filing for unemployment.

This was mainly attributed to widespread shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly pandemic.

The Department of Labour estimated more than 20 million Americans losing their jobs in April, bringing the unemployment rate to 14.7%, up from 4.4% in March.

In Europe, about 397,000 lost their jobs in April alone, according to data from the EU’s stats agency, released in June.

Euronews reported that the EU’s jobless rate rose to 6.6% in April, from a 12-year low of 6.4% the previous month, according to Eurostat.

Most governments resorted to furlough schemes to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.

The furlough system puts workers on temporary leave and the government pays a percentage of their salaries.

In the UK, for example, British Petroleum announced 10,000 job cuts on June 8.

Swissport announced that 4,556 jobs could be affected, while British Air raised fears about the inability to keep up to 12,000 employees.

In Germany, airline company Lufthansa laid off 22, 000 while Anglo-German travel firm Tui sent home 8,000 people.

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