Chinese Employers Defy Gov't Agency Order

Wed, 1 Sep 2004 Source: Chronicle

The Chinese owners of a plastic manufacturing company, Shifa Plastic Ghana Limited, have made the laws of the country useless as they have constantly defied orders of the Department of Factories Inspectorate to implement effective safety measures.

The Chronicle learnt that the managers go under the cover of the following names, Patrick, Forest, Tom, Peter, Mike, Tan and Justin.

The Chronicle also gathered that the building, which placed about 100 workers at risk in the event of fire outbreak, was not appropriate to be used as a factory since the initial Lebanese owners built it as a warehouse.

The paper learnt that though the officials of the factories inspectorate have repeatedly warned that the warehouse, if it was being used as a factory, should be converted in such a way to meet factory status, the Chinese have not been compelled to adhere to the warnings.

The workers are still kept in the poorly ventilated space without a break or natures call while the Chinese perambulate with the keys of the locked factory as production goes on.

Sources told this paper that the Factories Directorate had directed that some parts of the warehouse be demolished, but the Chinese still insisted that should it be demolished some of the workers might steal some of the items stored in that room.

The Chief Inspector of Factories Inspectorate, Mr. Joseph Kweku Nkansah, confirmed that the Chinese had defied the laws governing factories, therefore a notice had been sent to them to comport with the rules of the land.

He noted that officials of factory inspectorate had already served the company to obey the regulations within 30 days or face serious action.

He said, "The Chinese because of the slow mechanism of the courts process and penalty as well being meager money, have disregarded the rules and regulations governing factories because they could easily pay when they were fined."

Mr. Nkansah emphasized that when this time around if the Chinese disobeyed the warning the inspectorate would know what steps to take to deal with them since the previous warnings were verbal.

Sources told this paper that apart from not adopting any risk measures, they have as well flouted the nation's companies' laws.

The source said under the companies' laws one director of a company has to be a resident in Ghana but Shifa does not have any director residing in Ghana.

Furthermore, the source said, recently to throw dust into the eyes of the workers that they were paying their Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions, the Chinese presented two different pay slips each to the workers to append their signatures while their salaries were being deducted.

The source said that the actions did not go down well with the workers who identified that the two slips were different and that there was a ploy by their employers to present the short listed pay roll to SSNIT so that it would seem that only a few people were employed.

The source said after the protest, the workers were given back their full salaries. When the Administrative Manager of Shifa, Mr John Kingson, was contacted, he said that an expert had been hired to convert the warehouse to the standard of a factory.

On the issue of SSNIT contributions, he said it was only one person whose salary was deducted as SSNIT contribution but was later refunded when it was discovered that he was not a contributor to SSNIT.

He stated that all but only the newly employed workers had not been registered under the SSNIT contribution scheme.

Source: Chronicle