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17.05.2005 General News

Irate Workers Take Management Hostage

By Ghanaian Chronicle

Pandemonium broke out at the premises of the Speedline Stevedoring Company Limited here in Tema last Thursday when demonstrating workers of the company took hostage two management staff of the company, Mrssrs George Amponsah, accountant and his assistant, Brian Bannerman.

The managing director of the company, Mr. Anthonio Barcon Castro, who according to our investigation had a tip-off of the intended demonstration did not turn up for work that day.

The workers embarked on the demonstration to press home their demands for better conditions of service and the deteriorating state of the company's plant and machinery, which according to them has adversely affected the hard won image of the company.

According to eyewitness accounts when the demonstrating workers who were in their numbers marched to the gates of the company, their pre-occupation was to prevent the managing director from using his office that day.

Meanwhile, the accountant and his assistant use the same entrance door as the MD to their offices and so in order not to allow them to keep the door open the workers bundled the two management staff and locked them up in the office.

Mr. Amponsah and his assistant were held in the office until some police officers who were dispatched from the Harbour police station came to their rescue.

In an eight page petition signed by 58 workers and addressed to the chairman of the company's board of directors, the workers complained among other things that because most of the company's forklifts are weak and worn out, they cannot withstand the robustness of modern day stevedoring operations.

The workers also complained about a DAF truck and an Ambulance belonging to the company, which were left at the vagaries of the weather to rust after huge sums of money have been used to repair them.

Another concern raised in the petition has to do with the management's neglect of its Boss Reach stacker, a machine used in stevedoring operations at Takoradi for the past seven months without attempting to repair it, thereby causing a huge finance loss to the company.

"The issue of low salary levels for all category of staff as compared to sister companies in the industry such as Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), APS among others is of great concern to us," the petition stated.

According to the petition, because there is no clear out promotional policy in the company to promote qualified workers, there is low internal promotions, which is adversely affecting competition and productivity.

The petition also disclosed that the company is in management crisis as the managing director, instead of executing his day-to-day activities and seeing to the overall management of the company, he prefers to take over the responsibilities of the Human Resource Manager.

"There is also the issue of Ex-Gratia awards yet to be paid to retired officers, some of whom are dead and their families facing economic difficulties of which workers for sometime now are agitating for its payment."

The workers again complained that for the past two (2) years management has refused to supply them with protective clothing's including safety helmets, shoes, uniform, among others, for the work.

They lamented the situation whereby some of the management staff in the company are privileged to take a loan of 80 million cedis whereas the junior staff are denied a loan of 3 million cedis.

Later the workers submitted their petition to the board chairman, Mr. Okudjeto who pledged the board's readiness to look into their concerns and treat it with all the urgency it deserves.

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