04.05.2005 General News

Construction workers of Asafo Market-UTC interchange on strike

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Kumasi, May 4, GNA - Workers of the Italian company, Sarroch Gelfi J.V. constructing the Asafo-Market-UTC interchange in Kumasi, have embarked on a strike action to back their demand for increased salaries and allowances.

Not even the intervention of the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo would make them call off the strike action, which began on Tuesday.

The Regional Minister went to the company's site to address the striking workers on Wednesday on hearing that they had laid down their tools.

He advised them to go back to work as government studied their petition and acted to redress their grievances.

He told them that he had learnt from the company that the bid they put in for the project was "very low" and that owing to recent increases in the price of building materials it had become hard pressed. The workers complained that they were not receiving transport and height allowances, non-payment of medical bills and delay in the payment of their 25 per cent salary increment since January this year. Besides, a Memorandum of Understanding reached between the company and their local union regarding rent advance payment for workers was not being respected and thus created a situation where about 60 workers from Takoradi in the Western Region had been forced to take temporary accommodation at an abandoned Shell filling station. Again, they insisted that the company had not been paying their social security deductions to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

Meanwhile, the management of the company in a letter to the striking workers said they were unable to increase their salary and allowance levels because of its financial difficulties.

They also said three certificates sent to the Government of Ghana since January had not been paid and that they were negotiating with the sector Minister for a review of the contract sum.

The company gave the assurance that if they successfully then they would effect the necessary changes to the remuneration structure of the workers.

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