Fate of 600 workers dicey after ‘illegal’ strike

Police say the demonstration was illegalOver 600 workers of the Western Steel and Forging Limited in Kpone near Tema have been locked as management of the company shut down its operations indefinitely after the workers allegedly embarked on an illegal strike action on Wednesday.

The workers, who engaged in a demonstration inside the factory refused to work or comply with conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to back their demand for the dismissal of Mr Kyeremeh Kofi Awuah, the company’s Human Resource Manager.

The four-year old company deals in manufacturing of iron rods and forging of metals.

They argued that, Mr Awuah does not guarantee their demands for loans as well as ignore their welfare issues including accidents while he cancelled their salary advance payments.

Other reasons were that, some of the new employees were being paid more than their seniors, while overtime claims were not calculated in accordance with the CBA.

On Thursday when the Ghana News Agency went to the premises, the gates of the company were firmly shut and guided by the police and the company’s security personnel while the workers stood in groups outside discussing their plight.

Mr Michael Koompon, a leader of the workers alleged that management has refused to heed to their demands leading to the “peaceful demonstration” on Wednesday.

Mr Koompon further claimed that the police forcefully sacked the workers from the company premises on Wednesday evening adding that, four of the workers were arrested for no cause while several others were assaulted and wounded with rubber bullets.

Mr Awuah on his part told the GNA that the workers on March 18 this year laid some grievances before management, including the termination of his appointment.

Mr Awuah said the workers also demanded for new union leaders as well as a withdrawal from the General Manufacturers and Metal Workers Union to which they belong.

Based on their demands, management have been meeting with the leadership of the workers to address their concerns, adding that, the latest meeting before the strike action was held on April 22.
The Human Resource Manager indicated that management was meeting with the mother union to evaluate the situation and rectify the problem in the shortest possible time for the company to be re-opened.

Superintendent Laar Baman, District Commander of the Kpone District Police said the workers did not inform the police as required by the Public Order Act before embarking on the demonstration.

Superintendent Baman said police personnel from his outfit and the Tema Buffalo Unit were detailed to the premises when management informed them of the situation.

He said all efforts to get the workers out from the premises after they had refused to work proved futile, as they gathered stones and metals in front of the company leading to the personnel using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.

He added that three of the workers were arrested, cautioned and released for pelting the personnel.

Source: GNA