The Ghana Employers Association has called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to save the businesses of their members

The Ghana Employers Association has called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to save the businesses of their members from imminent collapse due to the ongoing Tema Port Expansion project.

In a statement signed by the Director of Industrial Relations, Mr Joseph Kingsley Amuah, the Association said the concerns include:

“The future of the companies that will undertake scanner and inspection services, the fate of the container service companies, huge loss of jobs that are likely to be encountered as a result of the project, recruitment of new workers to replace existing skilled staff and influx of stevedore companies within the port.”

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Below
is the full statement:

CONCERNS OVER THE TEMA PORT EXPANSION PROJECT

We would like to bring to your attention some concerns of members of the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) operating in the Shipping and Ports industry which require urgent attention in order to save their businesses from imminent collapse as a result of the ongoing Tema Port Expansion Project.

These concerns include the following;

1. Future of the Companies that undertake
Scanner/Inspection services 2. The fate of Container Service Companies 3. Huge
loss of jobs that are likely to be encountered as a result of the project 4.
Recruitment of new workers to replace existing skilled staff 5. Influx of
Stevedoring Companies within the Port enclave.

In spite of the benefits that the country stands to
derive from this project, the GEA is anxious about these emerging business
concerns and challenges that are associated with the project.

With the monopolistic rights of MPS under the
project, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and other operators in
the Tema Port such as Terminal Operators, Inland Container Depots (ICDs),
Stevedoring companies and Shore handling companies, among others stand the risk
of losing huge revenues, that may lead to the collapse of many
container-related businesses, Stevedoring Companies, Scanning services and job
losses.

Recommendations:

It is against this background that GEA recommends
the following:

1. That the Ministries of Trade & Industry and
Transport take an immediate step to engage operators within the Port enclave to
thoroughly discuss and agree on terms that will ensure the uninterrupted
business activities of these Companies. 2. That the Ministries of Trade &
Industry and Transport specifically engage the Ghana Ports and Harbours
Authority (GPHA) and the Meridian Ports Services (MPS) on the issues that have
been raised by the operators taking into account the potential unemployment
impact, revenue losses and social implications that are likely to be associated
with the expansion project. 3. In more distinctive terms the GEA requests that
the service agreement between the Government of Ghana and the various Scanning
and Inspection services must be enforced to avert any estrangement. 4. That the
Ministry of Transport initiate steps to engage Meridian Port Services(MPS) to
absorb the existing experienced employees that are likely to be made redundant
in the Inland Container Depots rather than recruiting employees from elsewhere,
with the view to reduce the huge job losses. 5. That the issue concerning the
registration and regulation of Stevedoring companies should be properly
evaluated to maintain business viability and sustainability. 6. That since the
Ghana Dock Labour Company(GDLC) has over the years played a major role by being
consistent and reliable in the supply of Labour services to the Ports, its
services should be continuously being employed to meet the Labour requirement
of the new facility.

Future of Scanner and Inspection Services

On the future of Companies that currently undertake
scanner and inspection services at the Ports. Members contend that even though scanner
and inspection services will be a major component under the new project, they
are likely to be phased out completely in view of the posture of MPS and other
official information they have gathered.

Already the Scanning and Inspection Companies offering
scanning services at the ports already have a long term agreement with
Government to provide scanning and inspection services of which they have
invested heavily by way of equipment, machinery and requisite staff capacities
in the execution of the service. They anticipate the loss of about 400 jobs
should they cease to operate under the new facility.

Also earlier discussions with MPS and other
Government officials at both the Ministries of Trade and Transport over their
concerns have not addressed the issues regarding the status of their business.

Concerns over Issues Regarding Job Losses & Fate
of GDLC

Members have also complained about the huge job
losses that are likely to be encountered when the project takes off.

The Ghana Dock Labour Company Limited (GDLC) a
limited liability company which was incorporated in 2002 by Dock Labour
Employers (DLE) and the Maritime and Dockworkers’ Union with the core mandate
of supplying causal Labour to the Port and its environs, stands the risk of
laying off about 3000 staff currently serving the GPHA.

GDLC was not meant to be a profit making company but
rather a pool from which all stakeholders doing business in the port will take
labour at a cost determined by GPHA (Regulator), DLEs and MDU. Records shows
that this arrangement was a carefully thought-through idea, engineered to
streamline Port Operations and the constant agitations by Dockers operating in
the then Port.

Again, the arrangement was to help GPHA meet its
human resource needs associated with the irregular pattern of vessel calls
under the port reforms of 2002. To that end, dock labour experts and union
leaders were sent abroad to study best practices in dock labour management to
replicate the model in Ghana, hence the set-up of GDLC. Since its formation,
GDLC has performed credibly well in executing its mandate of supplying highly
qualified and experienced labour to operators of the ports.

With about 4000 men and women in its pool, GDLC
serve companies like GPHA, Atlantic Ports Services, Advanced Stevedoring
Company, Golden Gate Services, Speedline Stevedoring Company, Hull Blyth,
Scanship, Keyport, Grimaldi, Antrack, Tema Container Terminal, Meridian Port
Services and many more.

The GDLC has supplied different skill set to the
ports and its environs including Crane operators, Mariners, Dockers, Masons,
Painters, Carpenters, Electricians, Plumbers, Labourers, Material Handlers,
Machine Operators, Loaders, Clerks, Front Desk Executives, Chauffeurs, Room
Attendants, Housekeeping Assistants, Pool Attendants, Security, Landscaping
Specialist, Cleaners, etc.

Management of GDLC has consequently met on several
occasions with the management of MPS to discuss possibilities to supply labour
for the construction works and the terminal operation when completed but this
had not yielded any positive results.

MPS has however indicated that their casual labour
services would be managed by third party contractors and could not guarantee
allocation to GDLC when the new terminal

becomes operational. Efforts to obtain names of
third party operators already contracted by MPS in the new terminal did not
receive any favorable response. GDLC had hoped for an opportunity to supply
labour to such companies.

With the advantage of having the most experienced
workers, already trained and adapted to the port terrain in our books, GDLC had
hoped that MPS would offer us the first option in the supply and management of
highly skilled labour for use in the new terminal where its skilled workforce
can quickly adapt to the new technology in the Port environment.

GDLC’s current allocation to MPS has dropped
drastically from 7130 in 2017 to 3756 in 2018. The gap has been filled with
personnel from unauthorized labour companies operating from the MPS yard.

Similarly, it is believed that MPS can give first
option to GDLC on the ongoing recruitment exercise with no harm to their brand,
incompliance with their local content requirement under the concession
agreement.

On the issue of local content, it must be stated
that about 90% of the workers in GDLC pool come from Tema Metropolitan area and
its environs. The social benefits in employing these people through GDLC has
been enormous as GDLC pays SSNIT contribution, Provident Fund, Annual bonus as
well as providing healthcare for the workers.

Fate of Inland Container Services and Stevedoring
Companies

Other issues that have come up are the fate of
Container service companies where businesses stand the risk of folding up with
the potential social implications as a result of the massive unemployment that
is likely to be generated. According to businesses providing container
services, they stand the risk of shedding off about 1200 jobs should they lose
their business operations under the new facility.

They have also complained about the registration of
many stevedoring companies thereby reducing the quantum of services provided by
existing stevedoring companies which if not halted, will lead to massive
revenue and job losses.

GEA believes that the intervention at the
Ministerial level should be the best option at this stage to expediently
resolve these concerns and to save the several businesses and jobs that are
likely to be lost as a result of the take –off of the new facility anytime now.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

JOSEPH KINGSLEY AMUAH DIRECTOR, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
for (CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER)

CC: Chief of Staff

Office of the President Accra

The Director General GPHA, Tema

The Secretary General Ghana, TUC

The General Secretary MDU Accra

Source: Adomonline.com