The Ghana Railway Workers Union (GRWU) has resolved to defy a directive of the National Labour Commission (NLC) against its intended strike over the release of funds for the payment of salary arrears of railway workers.
While the Transport Ministry and the Chief of Staff were represented, no representative of the Ministry of Finance showed up, a development that the union did not take kindly to.
Following what the union called an “abortive” meeting, it received a letter from the NLC signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr Charles A. Bawaduah, asking it not to embark on the intended strike because the union was engaged in essential services.
“The Railway Workers Union and its members are ordered not to embark on any strike since they are engaged in essential services and especially since the commission is dealing with the matter. It is further ordered that the Railway Workers shall call off all steps taken or intended to be taken in furtherance of any strike action, and are to immediately call off any strike action embarked upon by the workers and resume work,” the NLC letter said.
But in a sharp riposte to the directive of the NCL signed by its national executive, the union said: “We wish to inform you that looking at how the Ministry of Finance has handled the release of government financial support, it will be very chaotic at this time that there is so much tension in the system to ask workers to go back to work without any commitment from the Ministry of Finance, especially so, when the ministry disrespected your subpoena served on them to appear before you on the issue.”
To avoid any chaotic situation from the workers, the letter said: “We humbly plead with you to use your authority and let the Ministry of Finance take the necessary steps that will lead to the release of the support in no time.”
The union maintained that as soon as the ministry issued a warrant to the Controller and Accountant-General for the release of the support, “we will ensure that the trains will come back on track,” adding that “we have every conviction that if we continue to accommodate one another, there will be a peaceful solution to the issue.”
The GRWU in a letter dated August 30, 2016 addressed to the Chief of Staff at the Presidency said following the failure of the government to release financial support to the Ghana Railway Company Limited since January 2016, it had decided to embark on an indefinite strike from September 12, 2016 until all arrears were released by the Ministry of Finance.
Before that, the union had, from September 1, 2016, hoisted red flags at all offices of the Ghana Railway Company on all passenger trains.
The letter, which was presented to the Chief of Staff, said the union had arrived at its decision because it believed the Ministry of Finance was insensitive to the plight of railway workers whose salaries were nothing to write home about.
“We have been cooperative with the government and we think the situation cannot be the same forever while our workers continue to suffer,” it said.
Still a national institution
The Ghana Railway Company Limited, the statement said, continued to be a fully-owned state institution and so the workers could “no longer be taken for a ride by the Ministry of Finance”.
The union averred that the financial support for the payment of salaries for July and August 2016 as well as the payment of accumulated social security contributions, tier two contributions, workers’ credit union contributions, union dues to both the TUC and the GRWU as well as other operational issues had not been forthcoming.
Source: radioxyzonline.com/ files from graphic