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22.12.2009 General News

SOS message to government from Takoradi - WE ARE DYING, SAVE US NOW!

By Alfred Adams Sekondi - Ghanaian Chronicle
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Ex-workers of the Western Veneer and Lumber Company (WVLC), a timber processing company based in Takoradi, have appealed to the government to step in to ensure the prompt payment of their end of service benefits due them, following the divestiture of the company in 2007.

The appeal follows the failure of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) to pay their severance awards, after sending the workers home as a result of the divestiture of the company to ASD Lumber.

Speaking at a durbar organised by the ex workers to deliberate on the matter, their spokesman, Geraldo De-Lima, said they took the DIC to the Labour Commission when they realised that the former was dilly-dallying with the matter, and won the case.

The National Labour Commission (NLC), in its judgment, ordered the DIC to pay the severance awards of the former workers, but the order has been flouted.

The judgment, dated September 16, 2008, also ordered the DIC to settle the workers on or before October 22, 2008, which never materialised.

“Having waited for two years, and struggling to pay for our children education, how long do we have to wait again, before our rightful and hard-earned entitlements are paid to us? Some us have spent our entire working lives in service to this state-owned enterprise, and we are totally devastated by the injustice we are being subjected to,” Geraldo bemoaned.

The Spokesperson therefore reminded the government of how the failure of the DIC to comply with the NLC ruling had resulted in untold hardship on them.

“Most of us are currently unemployed, and have no access to funds with which to start any businesses. For almost two years of the refusal of DIC to pay us our entitlements, sixteen of our colleagues have died out of abject poverty,” he added.

Geraldo alleged that they had written several petitions to the appropriate quarters, but the usual response was that they should exercise patience, and that something was being done about their plight.

Mr. Muhammed Affum, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NLC, told this paper in a telephone contact, that that the Commission was still pursuing the interest of the workers. He explained that the payments of the severance awards of the ex-workers had to go through processes, and the Commission was still pursuing that.

He could not however tell when the workers would eventually be paid.

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