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Business News Mon, 20 Jan 2003

The future of Tema Shipyard

A variety of options are currently under consideration by the directors of PSC, Tema Shipyard Limited (PSCT) in order to develop a sustainable future.

Relations between union workers and management at the yard is at all time low with workers refusing to allow some key PSCT staff members to enter the gates.

According to a statement signed by PSCT Chief Executive, Richard Lamble, the five senior and middle management staff, including two Malaysian expatriates, have been prevented from reporting for duty since a row flared in May 2002, bringing the effective management of the yard to a near standstill.

Labour unrest by a hardcore of unionised workers at the yard goes back long before it was privatized in 1997. but the new company’s attempts to introduce a more disciplined approach needed to meet performance targets to get the yard onto a profitable basis, have been thwarted by a determined hardcore of the 350 strong workforce.

What so frustrates the company is the undoubted business potential that PSCT holds if it was allowed to develop commercially. Vessels calling at the adjacent Tema Port, now one of the busiest in the West African sub-region, badly need the facility for repairs and maintenance. The larger of the yard’s two dry docks has the capacity to take vessels of up to 100,000 tonnes, which makes it the largest in West Africa.

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With restructuring and an injection of further capital, it is quite feasible that the yard could support up to 2,000 skilled and unskilled employees with commensurate improvements in workers salary and conditions. For such a scenario to be achievable, management must be allowed to make and implement decisions in the best interests of the yard and its employees.

The shipyard’s board of directors would hold a meeting this month to determine the yard’s future and what remedial action needs to be taken.

Meanwhile, PSCT customers with vessels awaiting maintenance at the yard are being contacted and informed of the curtailment of work until further notice.

The management of PSCT have expressed their longer for any inconvenience their customers may suffer but point out that this is for their longer term benefit. Until work resumes, a proportion of the workforce, who have yet to take their fully holiday entitlement, have been given paid leave.

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