Organised labour has reiterated calls on the government to, as a matter of urgency, review the Tema Port expansion contract agreement with the Meridian Port Services (MPS).
They include Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers, Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), Local Government Workers Union, Ghana Agricultural Workers Union, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana Medical Association, Judicial Staff Association of Ghana, General Construction, Manufacturing and quarries Workers Union, Maritime and Dockworkers Union, among others.
The call follows a similar demand by workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) who embarked on a peaceful protest last week to pressurise the government to undertake a review of the contract.
According to Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General, Trade Union Congress (TUC), more than 1,400 workers were likely to lose their jobs if the government failed to review the port expansion project agreement.
Speaking at the national May Day Parade held by organised labour in Accra yesterday, he urged the government to pay special attention to the issues which had been highlighted by various unions relating to the building of a new Container Terminal by MPS.
This year’s event was on the theme “Sustainable pension for all; the role of social partners.”
The monopolistic rights assigned to MPS in the
current contract agreement, he said, would also result in huge revenue losses
for the GPHA and other operators and subsequently collapse of many
container-related businesses when the new terminal commences operations in June
later this year.
“We have gathered that when the new terminal commences operations in June 2019 with the monopolistic rights of MPS, GPHA and other operators in the Tema Port such as terminal operators, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), Stevedoring companies and shore handling companies would lose huge revenues that may lead to the collapse of many container-related businesses,” he stated.
The contract, which Dr Baah alleged was awarded to MPS without going through a competitive bidding process, would also impact negatively on the government’s revenue.
“We have information that the contract was awarded to MPS without going through a competitive bidding process. If the contract is not reviewed and MPS commences operation in the new terminal in June this year, government/GPHA will lose millions of US dollars in revenue, in addition to over US$800 million granted to MPS in tax concessions,” he added.
As development partners, the Secretary General of TUC noted that the workers were not only concerned about the massive job losses that would result from the operations of the new Container Terminal by MPS, but also the huge losses in the government revenue, and appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene to ensure that the contract was reviewed.
In 2015, the government signed a 35-year contract with MPS which allows the latter to effectively monopolise the activities at the Tema Port.
Among other things, the concession agreement grants an exclusivity rights to the developer, MPS, to charge port dues, withhold the payment of dividends to the GPHA, which would now have a diluted share of 15 per cent of proceeds from the port operations, for the next 10 years.
In a separate concern, Dr Baah stated that workers preferred a social contract that provided safe working environment, adequate wages, protection from discrimination, prevent forced labour and ensures adequate pensions.
Presently, he said, pension for workers in Ghana were wholly inadequate which mostly rendered pensioners poor and in dire financial state.
He called on the government to play a lead role in ensuring that workers receive befitting end-of-service benefits.
BY YAW KYEI, JULIUS YAO PETETSI and CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS