Local workers of an expatriate oil service company in Takoradi were Monday locked out of the company’s premises for agitating for an improvement in their working conditions.
The company, Weatherford Services and Rental, was said to have called its expatriate workers early this morning and after the last person had entered the yard, the entrance to the premises was locked to prevent the locals from entering.
In what seemed to be a retaliatory action, the workers also used padlocks and chains to lock the expatriates inside the premises.
When the Daily Graphic got to the entrance of the company in the morning, the Ghanaian workers were stranded at the entrance and a notice posted on the glass door to the main reception read: “Monday, November 28, 2011, will be a paid-day-off for Ghanaian employees not working offshore.”
When the Daily Graphic contacted the expatriate country manager of the company, George York, and one Allan Schand, also an official of the company, on telephone, they refused to comment and asked this reporter to contact their head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Representatives of the workers said this was as a result of their call for the implementation of a Collective Agreement arrived at and signed on November 22, 2011 between the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Union (GTPCWU) of TUC and
Weatherford Services and Rental, represented by its Country Manager.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Mr Francis Sallah, Industrial Relations Officer of GTPCWU, said after unionising the workers, it was realised that the Ghanaian workers were placed at a disadvantage, while their salaries remained very low.
He said as per the agreement signed, the company was supposed to place the employees on their correct levels according to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by December 19, 2011.
He said Weatherford was also supposed to take care of the annual bonus before Christmas, 25 per cent salary increment after the correct placement, out-of-station allowance pegged at GH˘80 per night and transport allowance of GH˘75 per month.
He said it was agreed that the locals and expatriate workers should enjoy the same privileges and facilities, while offshore workers should enjoy two days off-duty after every week’s work offshore.
“We, therefore, went into negotiations and we arrived at an agreement and signed it, but just when the workers arrived at work last Friday, they realised that the Ghanaian Human Resource Manager had been fired,” he said.
Mr Sallah said as per the provision enshrined in the collective agreement with regard to lay off/redundancy, the company would have notified the union three months before the exercise and not to just paste a notice saying they were to be paid off.
He said the sad aspect of the situation was that most of the expatriate companies had refused to allow their workers to unionise and had threatened them with dismissal any time they called for unionisation.
Source: Daily Graphic
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