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13.01.2006 Business & Finance

Union expresses concern over stevedoring industry

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Accra, 13 Jan, GNA - The Maritime and Dockworkers Union has expressed concern about the possible collapse of local stevedoring companies and the loss of jobs in the maritime industry when the Ghana Ports Services consortium becomes fully operational.

"The council wishes to state that the operation of the consortium would result in loss of revenue to government, due to increased repatriation of profit by foreign multinational maritime companies" These were contained in a resolution signed by Mr. K. Owusu Afriyie, General Secretary for the Council, which was adopted at the 50th National Executive Council session of the Union.

It said the Council assessed the huge investment committed by Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA) in the construction of the container terminal at the Tema Harbour, and later transferred its investments into the Ghana Port Services consortium for handling stevedoring and cargo handling operations in the harbour, operate and transfer (BOT) concession.

The statement said despite the huge investment made by the government through GPHA, the State has a 30 per cent shareholding in the company whilst AP Moeller and SDV with minimal investment in the company jointly owns 70 per cent shareholding.

The statement said the Council has noted that some employers would want to use the National Health Insurance Scheme to shirk their responsibilities in Collective Bargaining Agreement on medical care and cautioned that such acts constituted violation of the rights of workers and an affront to industrial harmony.

The council commended government for initiating the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and expressed concern on, adding that government must put in measures to speed up the registration exercise of the scheme.

The statement also observed that Foreign Direct Investment in the economy tended to exploit the resources of the country, which had retarded the development of linkages to other sectors of the economy, which would create jobs.

" The Council believes that the country of the economy by multinational companies, would lead to huge capital flight which would starve the nation of scarce resources for development and job creation," adding that the only way to sustain development for job creation was to empower local businesses.

It also noted that since remuneration of workers was important for increased productivity, government must take appropriate steps to implement a living wage for workers.

The Council also stated that the denial of the right of workers to join Trade Unions was a violation of their constitutional right, and pledged to defend the rights of Maritime employees. The statement further re-affirmed the call by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) that attempts to amend the PNDCL 284 should be shelved until a consensus had being reached on the issue. The Council also expressed worry of the cost of tertiary education and problems associated with the implementation of the Computerised School Selection and Placeme nt System and called on the ministry to resolve the problem. Government was also urged to address the problems of the fishing industry to make it a viable sector for job creation and to increase its contribution to the national economy. The Council said the Malaysian administration had not injected the needed capital in PSC Tema Shipyard to improve operations of the company, resulting in poor operational performance or frustration for the employees.

"Council calls on government to evaluate the operations of PSC Tema Shipyard and to take appropriate measures that would help the company to operate at full capacity", it added.

The Council tasked the Ministry of Youth, Employment and Manpower Development to support the efforts of rig workers who have diverse skills needed for national development in seeking job opportunities. " The Council also notes with concern the perception that corruption was permeating our national life and called for the enactment of laws that would embolden the citizenry to speak against wrong doing without fear of intimidation", it stated.

It said with the increasing crime wave, the Ghana Police Service must improve its image in order to win confidence of the public and appealed to government to initiate policies and programmes aimed at making the youth more productive.

On the reduction of taxes on petroleum products, the council called on government to demonstrate political sensitivity to the call for reduction, even if it constituted a minority viewpoint. The Council also noted that government policies had not supported local rice producers and poultry farmers, and called for laws and policies that would safeguard the interests of the producers for job creation and to protect Ghanaians form eating unwholesome dumped meat on the market.

It further urged District Assemblies to make sanitation a priority issue in the Local Authority Administration and called for stringent environmental laws that would ensure the effectiveness of environmental regulatory agencies in the country.