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General News Tue, 6 Jan 2004

Tension between Chinese company and staff

Wa, Jan. 6, GNA - Tension is slowly mounting between the management of China Zhong Hao Ghana Limited, a Chinese borehole drilling company at Wa and its employees over the payment of risk allowances and Social Security contributions.

The workers claim that they work over the stipulated eight-hour working time in the Ghanaian labour laws and therefore should be given risk and inconvenience allowances while the management also claimed that what they were currently receiving was above the daily minimum wage and therefore could no longer pay additional allowances.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency under strict anonymity, at Wa, some of the workers explained that they were employed as drivers, mechanics, security and even drillers.

They said although they applied for specific positions in the outfit they were compelled to handle all these schedules at the site even though they do not have skills.

They alleged that some had worked for over two years and were still on a daily allowance of 10,000 cedis instead of salaries.

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The workers also alleged that the company does not pay Social Security contributions of workers and worst of all, workers do not break for lunch but rather eat in turns until the close of the day. "Above all these, we do not have safety materials such as safety boots, overall uniform, goggles and Wellington boots, yet we work under very harsh conditions."

They said although some have been working for about two years, they were yet to receive appointment letters and complained that the workers are sacked at the will of the employers, while employees do not have a say in their own welfare. The workers also alleged that the company does not pay their medical bills anytime they were sick and days that they fall sick they were not paid any allowance and they work throughout the week without holidays.

Reacting to the allegations by the workers, the manager of the Wa branch who only gave his name as Mr Wu said they recruit them as casual labourers and therefore could not pay their Social Security contributions.

Mr Wu however claimed that the workers were not fair to them in terms of allowance since they pay 10,000 cedis a day as wages and 8,000 cedis daily risk allowance, the highest in the Ghanaian private companies.

"We pay them risk allowance of 8,000 cedis a day except the days that we do not drill and allow them to eat in turns because the work does not need any break until we hit the water table," he explained. Mr Wu said their terms of reference states that workers should work up to two years before they could be put on salaries and attributed the long two years to the frequent departure of workers.

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"Most of the workers do not spend up to three months here and so we find it difficult to work out their Social Security contributions when they do not stay long," he added.

The manager said their company was paying the highest allowance of 18,000 cedis per day compared to other companies and did not understand why workers should be complaining.

Mr Frimpong Boateng, Regional Labour Officer told the GNA that workers who work over the stipulated eight hours a day had the right to demand extra duty allowances from their employers. He said he would intensify educational programmes to bring those who breach the laws to book.

Source: GNA