89 pensioners sue bank

Eighty-nine pensioners of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) have sued the bank at the Fast Track High Court over their pension payments.

The pensioners are also praying the court for a declaration that they are entitled to the payment of pension under the GCB’s Special Pension Scheme established on October 1, 1976.

They are also praying for a recovery from the defendant their pension entitlements as per the Special Pension Scheme as amended, as well as interest on the entitlements above at the prevailing bank rate from the date each plaintiff left the bank’s employment up to the date of final payment.

Plaintiffs are also requesting the court to award costs in their favour.

Hearing of the case has been fixed for January 21, 2009.

According to the statement of case, on October 1, 1976 the bank established a Special Pension Scheme as part of the conditions of service for all its employees with the objective of rewarding qualified staff for their long service and devotion to duty, serve as incentive and security for the staff to serve longer with the defendant bank and provide security for the staff during their life in retirement.

According to the plaintiffs, under the scheme any employee who at the time of retirement or leaving the bank had attained the age of 45 and worked with the defendant for a minimum of 15 years was qualified to be paid pension under the scheme.

It said on February 27, 1987, the Board of the scheme decided that proportionate adjustments should be effected to the scheme formula based on current salaries with effect from October 1986 and automatic adjustments of pensions whenever salaries changed.

“Upon retiring or leaving the employment of the defendant as indicated above, the defendant has neglected to pay the plaintiffs their accrued pension under the scheme on the ground that the Special Pension Scheme was purportedly abrogated by the defendant on or about December 18, 1990 and employees who were yet to attain the voluntary and compulsory ages were transferred onto the Social Security and National Insurance (SSNIT) Scheme,” the statement of claim pointed out.

According to the plaintiffs, the scheme has not been abrogated, adding that “alternatively, granted (but which is denied) that the scheme was abrogated on the said date, since the plaintiffs’ right to be paid pension had accrued then, the defendants are liable to pay the plaintiffs pension under the scheme”.

It said following persistent demands by the plaintiffs for the payment of their pension, the defendant entered into negotiations with the Retired Staff Association of Ghana Commercial Bank Ltd (RESAG) to reach a compromise on the quantum of pension to be paid to the plaintiffs among others.

“In or about March 2003, the defendant unilaterally paid various sums of money to the plaintiffs as pension awards under the scheme. The plaintiffs, through RESAG, remonstrated that the amounts paid to them did not satisfy their pension entitlement under the scheme, and, therefore, they considered the amounts as only part payment of their entitlements,” the statement of claim continued.

According to the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeal, in its judgement dated July 11, 2002 in a suit titled Ghana Commercial Bank Pensioners Association versus Ghana Commercial Bank, held that with effect from December 1, 1992, pension entitlement under the scheme should be computed based on the current consolidated salary and not basic salary.

In its statement of defence, the GCB said the plaintiffs were not entitled to pension payment because the scheme had been abrogated.

The defendant accordingly prayed the court to dismiss plaintiffs’ writ, since it was without merit.

Source: Daily Graphic

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