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31.10.2005 General News

MMT workers embark on strike

By GNA
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Kumasi, Oct 31, GNA - Workers of the Kumasi branch of the Metro Mass Transit Limited on Monday began a strike action to demand payment of salary arrears that has been delayed for 10 months.

The strike action has compounded the transportation problem in Kumasi with commuters forming long meandering queues across the length and breath of the metropolis.

About 300 workers of the company gathered at the premises drumming and singing war songs as the buses stood idle in the yard. Speaking in an interview in Kumasi Mr Yaw Owusu-Ansah, chairman of the local branch of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU) of the TUC, said the workers were demanding the immediate payment of the 30 per cent salary increase arrears that was approved by the management of the company in April.

He said after several months of agitation, the management agreed to increase the salaries of the workers by 30 per cent with effect from January and additional 15 per cent increase to bridge the gap between the salaries of the senior and junior staff of the company. Mr Owusu-Ansah said in spite of this agreement, the management had refused to pay the arrears and the workers decided to wear red bands on October 14 to serve notice to the management and gave an ultimatum that they would embark on st rike action by the 31st October if nothing was heard about it.

He said the workers would return to work only when they received positive response from their leaders who were holding discussions with the management in Accra.

Mr Fuseini Iddrisu, the Ashanti Regional Industrial Relations Officer of the GTPCWU, corroborated Mr Owusu-Ansah's statement and said the parent union had tried on several occasions to get the management of the company to adhere to the conditions agreed upon with the workers but to no avail.

He said the managing director of the company at certain stages refused to hold further discussions with the union and this prompted the General Secretary to petition the government, the Labour Commission and the security agencies.

Mr Iddrisu said the strike action was nationwide and expressed the hope that the current crisis meeting in Accra would help to bring things to order.

Management of the company could not be reached for their comments since they were said to be having crisis meeting with the leadership of the union in Accra.

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