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12.10.2004 Business & Finance

Horror At Indo-Ghana Enamel Ltd

By Ghanaian Chronicle

Workers work riskily amid unfair labor practices Four workers lose seven fingers within six months Accra, Oct. 12, Chronicle -- THE current situation at Indo-Ghana Enamel Ltd, manufacturers of enamel bowls, established in August 2003, at Ghana's industrial hub of Tema can only be described as horrific.

The Chronicle has gathered that at certain sections of the factory, particularly at the forming section, where heavy machinery are used, most of the workers do their jobs at the peril of their lives.

Despite the obvious dangers that are associated with the handling of the machines, the company has reportedly refused to heed the demands of the workers for risk allowances although injuries in this section are a common occurrence.

The Chronicle can report that within the last six months, four workers have lost a total of seven fingers to the heavy machines. There are several others who have lost, not only parts of their fingers but have suffered from acid infections too.

Though the personnel manager of the company, Mr. John Osei Korasare, told this paper that the company was responsible for the medical bills of any injured worker, this claim was rubbished by workers interviewed as grossly inadequate for the kind of injury they suffered.

One worker lamented that management had not found it necessary to ensure that workers who handled the heavy machines were properly trained before being introduced to the machines, saying that the effect of any slight technical problem could have serious consequences.

"You see, the machines are such that if you make the slightest mistake, you lose your fingers. As human beings, we will definitely make mistakes. Management should have seen the need to provide enough training for workers before they are allowed to work with the machines so that the current level of injuries will reduce," he complained.

Mr. Korasare maintained, nevertheless, that the injuries were mainly due to carelessness on the part of the workers.

He explained that those who worked with the machines were people with mechanical engineering background who had, besides, been taken further through a period of training after they had been employed.

The personnel manager, however, conceded that there was nothing like risk allowance for the workers but said plans were underway to introduce such a policy.

In a related development, The Chronicle investigations uncovered other forms of unfair labor practices at the company.

Junior workers have no right to take part in decisions affecting them and any attempt by any worker to defy the status quo could result in dismissal.

The issue of junior workers' affiliation to a labor union, for example, has become a subject of controversy between management and the workers.

It is alleged that while majority of the junior workers had opted for the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), management had decided to affiliate them to a different union known as GEMM.

The paper discovered that as part of the grand design by management to compel the workers to join GEMM, the leaders of the workers who spearheaded the ICU crusade were intimidated through threats of interdiction or dismissal.

Some junior workers who have suffered for championing the interest of their colleagues were Messrs Patrick Kyei Aboagye and Aggrey Mintah, who have been interdicted and Mr. Prosper Dabah, who has been given a strongly worded warning letter.

Disturbed by the turn of events at the company, the Tema branch of the ICU adopted a resolution on September 10, 2004, calling for sanctioning the management for indulging in " unfair labor practices".

The resolution further called for an unconditional reinstatement of Messrs. Kyei Aboagye and Aggrey Mintah as well as the withdrawal of the warning letter to Mr. Dabah.

Responding to the issues on the unionization controversy, the personnel manager said the claim that majority of the junior workers had opted for the ICU had no basis, emphasizing that once the Collective Bargaining Certificate had been issued to GEMM, it was only prudent to have all workers under that union.

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