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17.12.2008 General News

Tema shipyard junior workers on rampage

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Unionized workers of the PSC Tema shipyard on Tuesday staged a demonstration at the forecourt of the company in reaction to management's decision to interdict 219 junior staff for going on strike.

They were also alleged to have assaulted Mr Kwame Asare Duah, Head of Finance of the company.

The workers drummed, sang and danced to pressurize management to rescind the interdiction decision.

PSC Tema Shipyard is the largest dry-dock in West Africa and provides ship repair and dry docking facilities to vessels.

In a letter dated December 15, the company's management interdicted the 219 workers for engaging in an “illegal” two-day sit down strike from November 18th to 20th in addition to assaulting Mr Duah.

The letter said they were interdicted in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the company and the Maritime and Dockworkers Union of the Trade Union Congress.

The main gate of the company was locked and 15 police personnel were on hand to protect management, customers and company property.

Mr Eric Tibu, vice chairman of the company's local union, denied that the workers went on strike and assaulted Mr Duah and explained that on the said days the workers even worked more than the stipulated working hours.

Mr Tibu said they would take the necessary action should management fail to rescind its decision. “We only asked them to explain their intention to deduct taxes on our bonus.”

He said as much as they were willing to pay their taxes in accordance with the country's laws, they have the right to demand an explanation on issues they do not understand.

Mr Mohamad Ismail Sulaman, chairman of the executive committee of the company, said the interdiction was lawful as the workers did not follow the laid down procedure in the CBA and the Labour Act to press home their demand.

He said an investigation would be carried out into the issue after consulting their solicitors and the appointment of those found culpable would be terminated.

Mr Sulaman said the interdiction was necessary to ensure the safety of other workers, customers and property and that management would meet with the mother union for amicable settlement.

He said even though the strike caused the company a lot of money, management was willing rescind its decision on condition that they agree to sign a bond to ensure they comply with the company's rules.

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