Casual workers of the Intermodal Shipping Company Limited say the management of
the company has deliberately ignored their Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA)
in the determination of who gets what after their forcible lay-off.
Only twenty-eight out
of several hundred casual workers were given between 5,000 Ghana cedis and
11,000 Ghana cedis by management as severance award, denying the local union an
official seat at the negotiation table as directed by the CBA.
management said the union was consulted, Madam Christiana Adoo, Vice
Chairperson, told the Ghana News Agency in telephone interview that she was on
leave and therefore knew nothing about the arrangement.
According to the CBA
sighted by the Ghana News Agency, management was obliged to contact and
negotiate with the local union on such matters.
Mr Daniel Mensah, a
causal worker of the company, told the Ghana News Agency that after working the
quays, spending days and nights stuffing containers with cocoa beans and
enduring the rain, hunger, thirst and mosquito bites for more than ten years as
a casual worker, all that he could take home was 5,000 Ghana cedis.
According to him, he
was told many times that if he worked hard, he would be made a permanent worker
so, “I put in all my heart, mind, body and soul into the work only to be laid
off after ten long difficult years.”
Several workers told
the Ghana News Agency stories of neglect, betrayal and hopelessness endured in
an atmosphere of modern slavery and contempt.
The company had
earlier held an uncompromising stand, arguing that casuals were not covered by
any conditions of service and that they worked for their wages and did not
deserve any other form of compensation.
But Article three of
the company’s CBA which came into effect on 4th January 2016 says,” This
agreement shall apply to all permanent, probationary and non-permanent
employees of the Company on or before the date of this agreement”.
In an earlier conversation
with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Van- zyl Rhett, the South African born Managing
Director, Intermodal Shipping Company branch in Ghana, sympathised with the
workers describing them as” poor Ghanaian workers, who work so hard but not
aggressive enough to assert their rights.”
” The Company has
enough money to give them handsome redundancy packages. If this had happened in
South Africa, the workers would have burnt the company’s properties,” he said.
But Mr Rhett, a son of
Dutch immigrants, whose kind rose to political power in South Africa in the
1940s only to legalise segregation (apartheid), which dehumanised and
disinherited black South Africans for many years, had a sudden change of mind,
thus swapping his sympathy narrative to one of indifference.
“Once the workers have
accepted the package that is the end. And those who did not get anything can go
to the Ghana court,” he said.
Company Limited, the Israeli flagged company, is vehemently opposed to the payment
of any kind of redundancy to black casual workers.
Intermodal casuals in
Nigeria and South Africa have been given handsome redundancy packages but
Ghana’s pro-investor labour laws, timid labour movement often render Ghanaian
workers poor and susceptible to the manipulation of shylock investors.