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09.11.2005 Business & Finance

Casual workers of GPHA have received full benefits - Minister

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Accra, Nov. 9, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways, on Wednesday said it was not true that there were additional severance payments to be made to casual staff of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) since those affected had been paid their entitlement fully.

He said after several meetings, a negotiated settlement was reached and each affected casual worker was to receive 666,666.67 cedis for each year of service with the Authority.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi made this known in Parliament when Mr Samuel Johnfia, MP for Ahanta West, asked if there were any plans to make additional payments to casual workers of the GPHA, who were laid off in 2002.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said before the casual workers of the GPHA were absorbed by the Ghana Dock Labour Company (GDLC) a package was negotiated for the casuals and that what they received were not severance awards but rather "a golden handshake".

"By this arrangement no worker was laid off, because those handling cocoa were taken over by the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC) while all the others were absorbed by the GDLC.

"In total there were about 3,000 casuals, who took the handshake with GPHA spending about 50 billion cedis on these payments. "Our position is that there is nothing like additional payments to be made, indeed all the affected casuals were fully and finally paid their 'golden handshakes.'

"In ensuring the landlord status, GPHA's role is to reduce its supervisory and regulatory responsibilities for all activities within the ports of Ghana.

"Under the new system and in relinquishing stevedoring and cargo handling activities to the private sector, there was the need to establish a new company, the Ghana Dock Labour Company." The Minister said the GDLC would take over the management of dock labour to provide the requisite manpower services to all stevedoring companies and other dock-operating establishments.

Prof. Ameyaw-Akumfi said the new system had rather streamlined the management of the casuals and that adequate provisions had been put in place to ensure that social security, training and safety had been incorporated in the engagement procedures thus ensuring job security and guarantee.

"The Ministry, however, would like to bring to the attention of the House that these casuals have taken legal action at the Tema High Court against the Authority in connection with this matter and the case is before a court of competent jurisdiction."

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