Dismissal of NSS Recruits: NPP govt to incur judgement debts

General News of Friday, 10 February 2017

Source: Daily Post

2017-02-10

Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh VettingDr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education

The NPP government is set to incur judgment debts running into millions of cedis as many of the one hundred and seventy-two (172) National Service scheme workers recruited in December last year head for the courts to sue over wrongful dismissal.

Yesterday, the National Service Scheme (NSS) released a statement sacking all workers recruited in December last year under the former government. The statement signed by the Acting Executive Director of the Scheme, Ussif Mustapha, said the decision has been informed by a thorough consideration of violations of due process prior to the recruitment.

“These included petitions to the Public Services Commission (PSC) against the recruitment process upon which the PSC in a letter dated 16th November, 2016 advised the former Ag. Executive Director to halt the recruitment process until the matter was properly resolved. This was however ignored and appointment letters were issued to some persons on 15th December, 2016. Management therefore wishes to advise persons affected by this decision to look forward to a new opportunity to have the staff recruitment properly carried out,” the statement said.

Many, however, see the dismissal as part of the decision by the new NPP government to revoke the appointment of persons who were employed under the former NDC government immediately before or after the NDC lost the December 7, 2016 polls.

These appointments, the NPP government perceives, were done for the sake of political expediency and not in the interest of the new government or the state. Many, as a result, have been dismissed from their work in various fields. Police and military recruits on training have not been left unscathed.

However, indications are that many of the dismissed persons will be heading to court to sue for wrongful dismissal. The National Service recruits may be poised to earn so much for wrongful dismissal because their recruitment followed due process and has nothing to do with last minute recruitments by the out-going NDC government (which in itself is not illegal) .

Indeed, the process to employ these recruits started as far back as 2015. In that year, the NSS wrote to the Public Services Commission to recruit staff to place those who exited the scheme through retirement and dismissal NSS received a letter from the Public Services Commission dated February 19, 2016 granting clearance for recruitment for 35 staff who exited mainly through retirement and others

In another letter dated June 2, 2016, the PSC wrote to NSS Granting clearance for additional 172 staff due to the vacancies created by the dismissal of those involved in the ghost name scandal.

Following this, NSS wrote in July 2016 to the Ministry of Finance for Financial Clearance to undertake the recruitment.

In August 2016, the Ministry of Finance wrote to the Minister of Education granting NSS clearance to recruit 207 staff to replace those who exited through various means.

The ministry of Finance made it clear in the letter dated 29 August 2016 that the recruitment must not take place before October 2016 and not later than December 31, 2016

The Ministry of Education in a letter signed by the Chief Director on Sept, 16, 2016 communicated the clearance granted by the Ministry of Finance to the Scheme.

The Board of NSS met to deliberate on the issue, and advised management to consider using a professional recruitment agency to undertake the shortlisting and interviews given the numbers involved in the time limitations imposed by the Ministry of Finance.

Management of Scheme through invited and received interest from three private Human Resource Agencies, and one (Zormelo & Associates) was chosen based on presentation of a detailed proposal and cost effectiveness.

While the two other agencies had a cost of ranging between GHS200,000 and GHS 300, 000 associated with their bid, Zormelo & Associates presented an invoice for GHS100,000 and provided detailed information on what the process was going to entail.

The vacant positions available were widely advertised in almost all the relevant newspapers in Ghana and online including on social media. Zormelo & Associates constituted an interview panel that consisted among others two NSS Board Members, one management staff, as well as some senior members of the Civil Service on the request on the Scheme.

Upon completion of the interviews and submission of an initial draft report with the list of those who attended the interview and the various recommendations, the Scheme receive a letter from the PSC on accounts of a position submitted by the administrator of the Scheme” Mr. Simon Peter Mckandamah arguing among others against the outsourcing of parts of the recruitment. The PSC was asking NSS to halt the process entirely on accounts of the petition.

On the directive on the Board, the Scheme wrote back to the PSC in a letter dated 17 November 2016, explaining among others that

(a) the PSC request was late because the scheme had finished the process and was finalizing letter of appointment,

(b) if NSS halts the process, the deadline given by the Ministry of Finance would elapse and the scheme would spend another year more chasing clearance, while its office are empty of staff.,

(c) NSS also drew attention of the PSC to the fact the matters of recruitment for the scheme lie with the board as guided by the NSS ACT and principles of the Public Service

In early December, management on the Directive of the Board issue appointment letters to applicants who had successfully undergone the interview including some of the Service Personnel who were doing extended service in the NSS District officer as Volunteers.

It is important to note that those among these service personnel service in the district offices of NSS volunteers who were not successful in the interview process have since recruitment have been supported by some staff of the Scheme to wage a media war against the recruitment.

It is also worthy of note that the PSC CANNOT have asked the Scheme to stop recruitment just by mere receipt of a petition built on foundation of fabrications.

It is curious to note the petitioner bypassed the Board of the Scheme, the Executive Director and went straight to the Public Services commission with attention to one particular Mike Gabah.

Further worth noting is the fact that the PSC, in proper administrative practice, should have written first to NSS to

(1) ascertain the facts pertaining to the petition,

(b) draw the Boards attention to the claims

(2) request a meeting with the Board, and

(3) ask the petitioner to provide evidence to support his claims?

All matters and issues pertaining to the recruitment were discussed by the Board, and only approved decisions were implemented. The records are in the various Board minutes. Under Ghana’s system of public sector management, the Executive Director cannot revoke the decisions of the Board without going back to the Board, and in matters of recruitment.

Further, a person’s appointment cannot be revoked once given an appointment unless on specified grounds as indicated by the public service rules. As a result of all these, it is clear that the new management is engaged in illegality.

It is also relevant to know that the employees of NSS in question have been at post since December 15, 2016 so they have been working for the past two months. All letters and correspondences in relation to the recruitment are available on file in the Executive Directors office at the NSS and can be verified.

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