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05.11.2007 Business & Finance

Union demands fair deal for 700 retrenched workers

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The Timber and Woodworkers Union (TWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), says it would prevent the takeover of Western Veneer and Lumber Company (WVLC) by its new owners until all outstanding issues concerning the sale of the company had been settled amicably.

The Union said even though it was not against the deal, it would employ every legitimate means to ensure "due diligence, probity, accountability and transparency in the divesture of the company in the best interest of the 700 workers of WVLC and their families."

These were contained in a statement signed and read by Mr. Joshua Ansah, General Secretary of TWU at a press conference, organized to throw more light on the sale of the Company to ASD Lumber (Ghana) Limited, in Takoradi on Friday.

He said ASD Lumber had so far paid second instalment to the government, which under the terms of the offer, grants the new owners the right of entry to the WVLC.

Mr Ansah expressed the Union's disquiet about the "irregular manner the new owners are rushing to take over the company," taking into account the fact that its earlier requests bordering on the welfare of workers, probity and accountability were yet to be responded to.

He said that the workers had become apprehensive as a result of "the sordid history of the Divesture Implementation Committee (DIC); about how many vital state-owned enterprises were sold and the current discoveries by the Auditor-General report to Parliament as revealed by the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Ansah said requests by the Union included details of the WVLC bank accounts statement and balances, information on any contractual obligations to suppliers, tenants, landlords and other commitments and copies of collective bargaining agreement and conditions of service for senior staff.

The Union also wanted to know the current statement of affairs giving details of the exact status of WVLC financial position and emoluments to be paid to the workers at the end of their service and demanded to commission a firm of auditors to conduct financial and labour audit of the company.

Mr Ansah condemned the "shabby treatment of dedicated workers" by ASD Lumber Ghana Limited who used the police to lockout management and workers from the company's premises on October 17, 2007 without negotiating to pay the entitlement of the workers.

"The Union wish to reiterate its demand for an urgent tripartite meeting of the DIC, the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines and the TWU to discuss the take-over of WVLC in accordance with section 65 and the Labour Act 651 of 2003 to ensure a fair deal for the employees" the statement said.

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