Accra, Sept. 21, GNA - The Rig Workers Association of Ghana on Wednesday appealed to the Government to intervene in the problems of employment between them and the Horizon Group, contractors for the West African Gas Pipeline Project (WAGPP).
Mr Kwame Nii Ezouame, Administrative Secretary of the Association, told a press conference in Accra that the contractors for the project had refused to employ Ghanaians to work on the project with the excuse "we are not qualified as the barges are automated.
"We demand to know if stewards and cooks, warehousemen, deckhands and radio operators, oilers, painters and carpenters required any special training before working on board the barges?" he queried at the conference attended by a large number of members of the Association from Tema and Takoradi ports.
Mr Ezouame said as an organised group, they were made up of experienced and skilled workers of oil and gas rigs and barges within the West African Sub-Region and wondered why they were not being considered for employment this time round.
"After all we had all the assurances and promises made by the Ministers of State that qualified Ghanaians would be given the opportunity to apply their skills and earn some income when the project takes off," he said.
Mr Ezouame alleged that out of the three components of the project, the last one involving working on the barges, had been given to only Nigerian and Filipino workers at the expense of Ghanaians. "Over 500 Nigerian and 200 Filipinos have been employed to work on the two barges that were engaged in the West African Gas pipeline construction, at the expense of Ghanaian workers," he said.
Insisting that they should not be denied the opportunity, he said, "Ghanaian participation in this project is a must to alleviate the suffering and misery due to the perennial unemployment among the offshore workers in the country and who would also pay taxes to the government to help our national development," he said. "We are asking for our fair share of the jobs. We are calling for justice. Justice must be done," Mr Ezouame said.
Mr Lawrence Gyasi, Safety Co-ordinator of the Association, said the inability of the contracting company to employ Ghanaians to work on the barges had rendered about 600 offshore workers jobless. He said the terminology "automated" was not different from the work done on different barges over the years by members. "The people are just refusing to employ us," he said.