THE TWO female staff members of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), who were dismissed for getting pregnant in the first three years of their employment, are still fighting their reinstatement almost two months after the Human Rights Court in Accra ordered for their reinstatement.
On April 23 this year, the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Anthony Yeboah, also ordered the GNFS to pay GH¢ 50,000.00 each as compensation to the two fire service personnel who were wrongfully dismissed.
The court, in its landmark judgement, declared as unlawful Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS which bars service women from getting pregnant within the first three years of their employment.
“Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS is discriminatory in effect, unjustifiable, illegitimate and illegal,’’ the court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, a justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as a High Court judge, held.
Apart from the compensation, the court also ordered the GNFS to reinstate Ms Grace Fosu and Ms Thelma Hammond, the two women, and also pay them all their salaries and benefits that had accrued during the period of their dismissal.
It further awarded cost of GH¢ 10,000.00 against the GNFS.
However, information available to the DAILY HERITAGE indicates that almost two months after the court’s decision, the two women have been ignored by the service and are struggling to make ends meet.
Sources close to the victims, who spoke to the paper, said the women were willing to start work immediately.
“We have been working to have them reinstated through the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), but anytime we are told that the processes are ongoing and they have not finished.
“As we speak, they are at home and struggling to fend for themselves. One of them now has to sell credit cards before her children can go to school. Their families are struggling and we beg the fire service to call them; life is not easy for them,” the source stated.
We’ve not accepted the ruling yet
Public Relations Officer at the GNFS, Divisional Officer Grade I, James Oheneba Yaw Kwarteng, told the paper that, “the court’s ruling is one thing and accepting the decision is also another thing.”
According to him, implementing the court’s decision is a process. He said the service also has an option to appeal the decisions, but said that would be determined by management.
He, however, said once the service accepts the court’s decision, they would be reinstated.
Regulation 33 (6) of the Conditions of Service of the GNFS states: “A female employee shall not be dismissed on the ground that she is pregnant, provided she has served the first three years.’’
Ms Fosu and Ms Hammond, however, became pregnant within the first three years of their employment and were, accordingly, dismissed by the GNFS in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Aggrieved by their dismissal, they petitioned CHRAJ, which in turn sued the GNFS and the Attorney-General at the Human Rights Court.
The applicants (CHRAJ, Ms Fosu and Ms Hammond) argued that the dismissal and Regulation 33 (6) were against the fundamental human rights of the two women, as stipulated in Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.
Article 17 (2) states: “A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status.’’
In its defence, the GNFS argued that Regulation 33 (6) is necessary due to the vigorous physical training that new employees go through to adequately equip them for their tasks.
“That vigorous physical training that the employees go through may adversely affect the foetus and the would-be mothers if these employees end up pregnant. A measure such as dismissal is made part of the conditions of service to prevent this danger,’’ it stated.