Business News of Fri, 19 May 20170
Two labour unions protest poor working conditions in Accra and Tema
Two groups of workers in Tema and Accra yesterday demonstrated against poor working conditions and called for better wages. While workers of the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the company undertaking the Tema Port Expansion Project, protested against what they described as poor working conditions, their counterparts at the Labadi Beach Hotel laid down their tools demanding increases in their salaries.
In Tema, the over 100 workers, who were mostly engaged through a third party recruitment company, L’aine Services, also accused the management of CHEC of intimidation and wrongful dismissals.
The protestors claimed they were paid between GH¢250 and GH¢800 depending on one’s qualification and the recruiting agency.
They further claimed that in spite of the high risk nature of their jobs, there was no provision of risk allowance to cater for workers in the event of severe injury or death.
The workers also alleged that the company had failed to pay social security allowances on their behalf although their contracts stipulated such terms.
They, therefore, called for the outsourcing arrangement between CHEC and L’aine Services to be abrogated to allow the workers to have a direct employment relation with CHEC.
The demonstration, which lasted for about four hours, saw the company’s haulage vehicles being used to block access to the construction site.
The work on the expansion, which commenced in October 2016, presently has more than 900 metres into the ocean with the breakwater and a considerable amount of land reclaimed.
While representatives of the workers union would not want to speak to the media, the General Secretary of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU), Mr Daniel Owusu Koranteng, the Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Felix Mensah-La and the leadership of the workers union held an emergency meeting with officials of CHEC to resolve the issues.
Mr Owusu Koranteng later stressed the need for the management of CHEC to put in place a new structure which should be negotiated with the union since the salary of the workers was woefully low.
“We want the management of CHEC to, as a matter of urgency, make an arrangement to provide a bus to transport the employees to work,” the petition demanded.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the concessioners, Meridian Port Services (MPS), Mr Mohammed Samara, when contacted, told the Daily Graphic that the demonstration could have been caused by a break in communication between the contractors and their workers.
“CHEC is dealing with it and it is not right that we (MPS) interfere with their process but what is important to MPS is the positive resolution of this conflict,” Mr Samara said.
Labadi Beach Hotel
Workers of the Labadi Beach Hotel claimed that the issue of their salary increment had been left unattended to by management since October last year.
When the Daily Graphic visited the facility, the management and members of the labour union were locked up in a meeting.
A former Local Union Chairman of the facility, Mr Solomon Aidoo, said the workers presented their grievances to the management of the facility in October last year but they had heard nothing from them.
He said the action of the workers was to compel the management of the hotel to attend to their demands.
For his part, the Vice Chairman of the Local Union, Mr James Brown, said the workers would return to work if their demands were met.