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24.01.2006 Business & Finance

Workers fired for complaining

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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Ten workers of Verise Industrial Company Limited, a Chinese company have been dismissed without any reasonable cause by the company's management.

The ten workers were leading the formation of a workers' union in the company to address the unfavourable conditions under which they work.

Reports making rounds in the company indicate that management was not happy about formation of the union, and therefore resorted to all sorts of means to get the leaders dismissed.

The workers say they were not comfortable under the conditions they worked and the way management treated them and thus they thought it prudent to form a union.

They also wanted to become members of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) to ensure protection of their working rights.

The ICU Regional Office in Accra later advised them to elect their leaders, which they complied to and were accordingly introduced to management.

Immediately, the seven leaders of the union started demanding that the unsatisfactory working conditions under which they worked eight hours a day be made better.

Particularly, they wanted management to consider paying them extra allowance when they report for work on weekends and on holidays.

Also, they wanted to be provided with adequate protective gears, such as goggles, gloves, overalls and better identity cards, among others.

According to them, management felt threatened about the new development and then without any provocation or the least mistake one was dismissed.

This, they noted, became worse when they were asked to report on 2nd January, a republic holiday, for work, for which they would not receive any extra allowance.

“When we complained, they said it was not a holiday in China and threatened to sack those who will not report for work. So they took advantage to sack some of us the union leaders who did not report for work on that day and those who were going into their sixth month to be made permanent workers.”

In addition, they indicated that, “when we told them we would seek redress wherever necessary, the Assistant Manager said there was nothing we could do since they had contacts with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Commissioner of Immigration.”

The company is a producer of unisex rubber sandals and since it started operations in June last year, it has not made any of its workers permanent staff.

Presently four key members of the union executive have been dismissed with a number of other six workers.

“I went to ICU to report the dismissal of some of our members on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I was also dismissed without any reason,” one of the leaders said.

The workers have since petitioned ICU to assist them seek redress for their dismissal.

The Accra regional officer of the ICU, Emmanuel Baah Benimah, acknowledged receipt of the workers' petition and said they were investigating the matter after which they would meet with the company's management and based upon their findings, make the necessary recommendations.

Meanwhile, when the Deputy Manager of the company, Zhang Bangzeng, was contacted he admitted that they have dismissed nine workers while one person resigned voluntarily.

He said four of them were dismissed for misconduct, which he did not specify, while the other five were dismissed for being irregular at work.

As to whether some workers were sent home for not reporting for work on 2nd January, he said, “as a result of some anomaly on the part of management, some two workers were sent home but the situation has been rectified.”

He, however, denied that they had sought to victimize the union leaders and did not want to make some of the workers permanent, saying, “as at 31st December, 2005, none of the Ghanaian workers had made the six month mark.”