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26.02.2009 Business & Finance

Union demands probe into PSC Tema shipyard workers besiege NLC for reinstatement

By Daniel Nonor - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) has called on government to as a matter of urgency institute investigations into the operations of the PSC Ship yard to access its operational problems.

The call comes in the wake of the unending wrangling between management of the company and workers which led to an industrial action and a subsequent layoff of some 219 unionized employees of the yard.

The MDU said the industrial actions and impasse between the management of the workers were only symptoms of serious mismanagement and fraudulent deals that had engulfed the operations of the shipyard and requires full scale investigations by the government to unravel the extent of the problem.

The workers besieged the offices of the National Labour Commission yesterday, demanding to be restored.

The General Secretary of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union, Mr. Eben Mensah told The Chronicle that when all attempts to use the standing Negotiation Committee to resolve the issue had failed, the Union lodged a complaint with the National Labour Commission which ruled on February 6, 2009, that all the two hundred and nineteen (219) unionized employees who had been locked -out should be recalled to work. But he said the management of the yard had blatantly flouted the ruling, “an indication of gross disrespect for the laws of the land.”

The Maritime and Dockworkers Union alleged that management of the Ship yard has since sub-contracted many of the company's operations to contractors who are cronies of the Malaysian management, whiles the experienced permanent staff have since been replaced with inexperienced contract workers.

“The result had been that safety had been compromised with an increase in accidents which results in deaths and destruction of properties. We wish to report on a few cases which include the electrocution of 3 contract workers within a period of one week in January 2009, in which two persons died whiles the other is in a very critical condition,” the Union sated.

“Our concern is that the government of Ghana had neglected its 40% interest in the company and left the Malaysian to run the company, “he said.

He added that the ship yard, being the second largest Ship Yard and Drydock company in Africa, and the largest in the Sub-region, plays a very important role in the oil industry in the country, as there is more potential for business in terms of refurbishing and re-activating of mobile off-shore drilling units, following the boost in oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Guinea.

It indicated further that the industrial relation problems facing the company could be traced to the absence of professionals to handle grievances of the employees.

He said, for example that, the current Human Resource Manager of the company is a Horticulturist who was initially employed to carry out beatification of the ship yard, whiles the acting Accountant of the company is not qualified.

The Union is, however, demanding that Management of the company implement the ruling of the NLC and work towards the immediate recall of the 219 workers, and also called on government to look for strategic investor who would inject capital into the company to save it from total collapse.