New Times workers embark on demo …but Board declares action as ‘unwarranted’

Mr Solomon Kotei (arrowed) ICU boss being interviewed by the press during the demonstration.

Mr Solomon Kotei (arrowed) ICU boss being interviewed by the press during the demonstration.

Aggrieved staff of New Times Corporation (NTC) yesterday locked out the management staff and the Managing Director (MD), Ms Carol Annang in protest of what they describe as poor working conditions.

The MD who reported to work at around 8am, was prevented from entering the premises.

The demonstration which started at 6am saw workers clad in red shirts with red arm and head bands and chanting war songs.

It followed several failed attempts by the workers’ union to get management to improve the conditions of service and failure to offer an acceptable salary increase.

They wielded placards with inscriptions such as “We won’t allow them to cheat us,” “The MD says promotion is not compulsory”, “Our PF is being mismanaged,” and “The MD is Chief Accountant, the Ag Internal Auditor and procurement officer,” among others.

“The workers accused the MD of sidelining procurement proceedures of the Corporation in making purchases and taking decisions without the involvement of workers”.

According to the demonstrators, the last time they had a salary increase was seven years ago.

The Chairperson of the Professional and Managerial Staff Union (PMSU) of the NTC, Ms Diana Bosuh told journalists that workers have sacrificed for too long for the Corporation and needed the best working condition.

“Workers commitment to work is not recognised, management  said promotion is not compulsory hence appraisal for some departments and sections have not been affected since 2015; Leave subsidy is not well handled,” she stressed.

She said there had been non-payment of contribution of workers Provident Fund (PF) to the fund manager.

The Chairperson said the union and workers were sidelined in the re-branding of the paper even though there are financial implications.

She alleged that the MD had turned herself as the Chief Accountant for the past one year even though there was a Chief Accountant on secondment from the Controller and Accountant General Office who had to leave because he was not given the freedom to work as a professional.

“The MD is currently the Internal Auditor and Procurement Officer as the two officers are on their terminal leave,” she alleged.

The General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union Ghana, Mr Solomon Kotei commended the staff for comporting themselves during the demonstration to voice their grievances.

He said it was regrettable that the management has been unable to improve the situation and supported the staff for their action.

 

He said for a company like the NTC, the ICU believes that more can be achieved if the right things are done and management works efficiently.

 

According to him, the ICU would support the workers in their resolve to correct the mismanagement of the Corporation.

 

“They will not be the reason Times dies off. We shall resume work and we will make sure that she does not step foot here,” he said.

 

Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association, who was also at the Corporation, believed that concerns could be addressed through cooperation between the workers and management.

 

Describing the situation as worrying, he declared the support of the Association in ensuring that the welfare of workers was promoted.

 

He said the GJA is overly concerned about what is happening in New Times Corporation because it plays a significant role in the media industry.

 

He urged staff to exercise patience and be calm while authorities look at how best they can resolve the issue.

 

Meanwhile a statement signed by a Board member, Mrs Ivy Austin, on behalf of the Board described the action of the workers as illegal and unfortunate.

 

 

It said at an emergency board meeting outside the Corporation, the Board considered the industrial action as “unwarranted” especially because salary negotiation was ongoing.

 

The statement said neither the Board nor the Management has failed or refused to engage with the workers through the Union representatives to find solution to the issues or concerns being raised.

 

“As a matter of fact, negotiations are ongoing between Management and the leaders of the Union, it is therefore unfortunate that whilst negotiation are on-going, the workers are resorting to a strike action without any notice to management  as required by the Labour Act,” the statement said .

 

The statement reiterated the Board’s commitment to ensuring a cordial working environment,

 

“The Board further wish to state that it has full confidence in the management of the NTC in resolving the matter,” it said.

 

Responding to the statement, Ms Diana Bosuh’s tone showed that the Board did not have any interest in the welfare of the workers.

She wondered why any of the Board members failed to show up at the Corporation to find out issues for themselves but chose to stay out to issue statements from a purported emergency meeting.

“Why didn’t they come here to hold that meeting? They just don’t care about us and we want Board to be dissolved,” she said.

 

END

 

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