Some of the MMT buses Metro Mass Transport staff in the Upper East Region has joined in a nationwide sit-down strike action to demand better salaries and conditions of service. The local strike action which started yesterday has already started bringing pain and frustration to the traveling public in the region.
Discussions between staff and management of the company through the Joint Committee seemed not to be yielding the desired results, as the latter is reportedly not in agreement with a 50 percent increment in salaries.
The staff has also refused to accept the 10 percent increment proposed by management through a memo that was issued in January.
The Bolgatanga Depot Manager, Stephen Abukari, in an interview with DAILY GUIDE , said the staff action was taking a toll on the people of the region especially the poor, predicting that the situation would get worse in the coming days if the buses did not get back to the road.
He appealed to the Joint Committee (made up of representatives of the Staff and Management) involved in the mediation between management and staff to work hard to convince their parties to soften their stance for the sake of the company's growth and the poor people who depend mainly on the Metro Mass buses for transportation.
“I know for sure that this strike action has no political backing; it is purely in request for better salaries and conditions of service, so no one should read political meaning into this.”
Bolgatanga Depot Chairman of the General Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union, Frank Agana said members of staff sent signals to management regarding the salary and other issues about a month ago when they hoisted red flags and bands on the buses and office premises.
According to him, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between management and staff stated that there would be periodic increment of salaries to meet present costs of living, but for sometime now, nothing had been done in that regard, hence the need for the sit-down strike.
“Master, if Metro Mass is being praised for having more passengers and offering better services than other transport companies in the country, why should they not treat their staff well? The company is capable of paying us well and to enable us give of our best, and we call on the management to do exactly that.”
They also complained of the introduction of mystery guests, who join the buses as passengers and report incidents on the buses to management. According to him, most of these mystery guests do not know or understand some of the incidents that occur on the buses, thereby giving false information to management.
“This conduct to us is an indication that management does not trust the inspectors they have employed to do the same work. One other thing that worries staff is why buses with just minor problems have to be parked because a spare-part has not arrived from abroad. In most cases, these spare-parts cost around GH¢10 and can be purchased locally to keep the bus running while we wait for the parts from abroad. Time is money.”
The Local Union Chairman however gave the assurance that staff would be at post when the mother union at the head-office asks them to do so, with the guarantee that things would get better.