Factory workers of the Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL) have threatened to clash with management and lay down their tools if steps are not taken to improve their conditions of service.
They mentioned delays and non-payment of workman compensation to injured workers, poor safety measures at the factory, poor salaries, long working hours without adequate compensation and the lack of a legitimate Union to fight for better working conditions as some of their major concerns.
In a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency(GNA) in Accra, a section of the workers who pleaded anonymity also stated that although the Company had registered the workers on the National Health Insurance Scheme for close to two years now, a lot of them were yet to receive their cards.
According to the workers, management had not only managed to sack all members of their legitimate Union, but also succeeded in selecting their loyalists and cronies to become members of the Union so they could be manipulated.
On salaries, the workers claimed that with all the overtime allowances paid with their salaries, some of them who had been working for the past five years still received a paltry GHc295.00 as monthly salary. They therefore called on management to reduce the number of working hours from 12 to the stipulated eight hours since they were not receiving anything significant from the overtime.
“Per our working conditions, we know that overtime is voluntary and should not be imposed on us from 0600hours to 18 hours daily”.
The workers claimed that they had been working without safety boots, nose covers and helmets, hinting that in the event of an accident many lives could be lost, adding that “some of the workers who got injured for years now have not received any compensation.”
In a quick rebuttal the company’s management dismissed some of the claims, describing them as ‘an attempt to vilify management for no reason.’
Mr Francis Kwesi Villars, Estates Manager in-charge of insurance and workers’ compensations told the GNA that it was not ATL that was supposed to pay compensation to workers, but the various insurance companies that covered the workers.
He said management spent a lot of money paying premiums on the workers and in most cases workers delayed in presenting their medical reports in times of injuries to management to present to the insurance companies, hence the delays.
He challenged the workers to produce any worker who had duly presented all medical reports after injuries and had not been paid workman compensation. “The insurance companies work with relevant documents and if we don’t furnish them with those documents, how can they pay compensation?” he queried.
On the selection of the Union members, Mr Villars explained that the current interim Union executive was put in place by their mother Union, the Textiles, Garment and Leather Workers Union and not the management of ATL as claimed by the workers.
He said in the past workers declined to use the safety attire that was supplied, and appealed to the workers to demonstrate their readiness to use the attire before management would go ahead to purchase it.
Ms Gifty Benyiwa Arthur, Secretary to the Administrative Manager of ATL who also spoke to the GNA said the issue of poor salaries was general and attributed it to the dwindling fortunes of the company and the textiles industry in the country in general.
She added that in spite of the dwindling fortunes of the company, it was still providing free lunch to every factory worker on daily basis, paying provident funds, providing scholarships and educational support to workers’ children and dependants, as well as paying transport to all workers.
“Even on the death of workers, the company still pays the fees of their children until they complete their education,” Ms Arthur stated.