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22.07.2004 Regional News

Tourists stranded in Cape Coast

By Chronicle
Tourists stranded in Cape Coast
JUL 22, 2004 REGIONAL NEWS

... as striking workers shut Castle gates in their faces Cape Coast -- A NUMBER OF TOURISTS who visited the two famous castles at Cape-Coast and Elmina, were held up on Tuesday, as they had been closed down. The closure was due to the sit-down strike by the workers of the Ghana Museums and Monument Board (GMMB) to back their demand for accumulated allowances from January to date.

Some stranded tourists burst into tears after persistent appeals to the workers to allow them tour the castle had failed, while others wandered around, hoping desperately that the gate might be opened.

Givlia Bonacci, a French PhD student of African History from Paris, who had come to gather facts for her project work, was highly disappointed and wondered when the strike action would be called off.

She lamented why despite huge proceeds accruing from castles of that nature, the workers were poorly paid, which had culminated in their strike action.

The strike action will cost the nation billions of cedis because this is the peak season for the tourism business.

The same action is taking place in the Western region too.

With red flags flying on the gates of these historic monuments, the workers paraded around, questioning every passerby whether he or she wanted to tour the castles, only to tell the one “we are on strike!”

However, Mr. Hemans Monney, the Local Union Chairman of GMMB told The Chronicle on Wednesday that, a series of meetings had been held in connection with the payment of the arrears but nothing had happened since, hence their decision to take this line of action.

He linked their woes to the absence of a substantive director in the GMMB who could have channeled their grievances to the authorities for consideration.

“It is very sad that a whole institution has no director or acting director,” Mr Monney lamented, adding, since the last director resigned about two years ago, no replacement had been made. He went on to comment that, to an advertisement which was placed in the dailies, only one person ventured to apply because of the known poor conditions of service of the institution.

The local union chairman said further that, currently, an interim management formed by the board of directors was steering the affairs of the institution and debunked the assertion that they had deliberately embarked on this action at a time tourism was at its peak.“The authorities are aware of the poor conditions of service,” he said and continued that since last May when they alerted the management, nothing had been done to rectify the situation. The peak season, he said, continued from now to the end of the year and if nothing was done to resolve their issue, they would pursue their agenda until the government found a lasting solution to it.

Mr. Leo Akore Yankson, the local union vice chairman said, even though the country would lose some substantial amount of money, the government must address their problem, stressing that all the government officials were enjoying their facilities.

He noted that for the past two years, the castles had not seen any paint whereas personnel from the Accounting General Department took money from them daily.

According to Yankson, some of the tourists were in support of their line of action because they did not understand why the workers were treated in that manner. “ We are not doing this to sabotage the government or the economy but we are also demanding our cake,” Yankson said.

Yankson, who is in charge of the Children's Library in the Cape- Coast Castle, appealed to the government to determine the exact ministry under which the GMMB operated.

He noted that there was no specification that indicated whether the GMMB operated under the ministry of tourism or national commission on culture, therefore, when problems cropped up, the workers knew not where to seek redress.

Just about a few months ago, the Ghana Library Board had embarked on a long strike action to back their due.

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