From John Bediako, Tema .
Police deployment to a Chinese construction site at Shai Hills on Friday locked out the workers who embarked on sit down strike action demanding to be unionised.
The workers, numbering about hundred and without appointment letters, resorted to the action after management of the company, a subsidiary of Green House International Development Ghana Ltd, asked to be allowed time to address their concerns.
The Afienya District Police Commander, Superintendent Asiamah Agyei, told The Chronicle that the deployment was necessitated by reports of a possible breach of peace at the construction site.
According to Superintendent Agyei, with support from the Tema command, the police arrived at the site and met the workers grouped at one place, though not hostile.
The Superintendent continued that the prevailing situation was not new to them, as police on several occasions play a mediating role.
Mr Agyei stated that prior to their arrival at the site, they had information that a section of the workers, who opted out of the strike and decided to go back to work whilst awaiting the outcome of the ongoing negotiation which would eventually lead to the unionisation, were attacked and issued with threat of harm by other colleagues.
According to him, after his outfit’s attempt to broker peace had failed, management complained of non guaranteed security and that, the striking workers must be locked out, a request which the police did not turn down.
The leader of the workers, Mr Bachari Esmund, told this reporter that for some time now, the issue of forming and belonging to a trade union has taken centre stage between management and the workforce.
He opined that it is only a trade union that can impress upon management to better their working conditions, including the provision of safety gears, which are presently absent.
“How can an artisan wear common slippers at a construction site embedded with sharp metals”, he lamented.
According to him, last Friday night, when they were stranded after the police forced them out of the company’s premises, a call went to the Ningo Prampram District Chief Executive, Mr Johnathan Teye Doku, who organised temporary accommodation for them at the Afienya Youth Leadership Training Institute, where they are putting up, as at the time of filing this report.
The DCE, he said, provided food for them on the night and that, officials from the TUC promised meeting with the management of the company on Monday to resolve the impasse.
The Project Manager, Mr Den Jum Duncan, speaking to the paper stated that the multimillion-dollar industrial hub upon completion would house plants to produce tomato paste and aluminum products amongst others.
According to him, a few of the selected plants, for which construction have started, have just gotten to structural development stages and that is why they are appealing to the workers to exercise patience for them to address their issues.
Mr Duncan continued that with threats coming from the workers who stay at the same site with the Chinese, they cannot guarantee the safety of the Ghanaian workers. He said they would now allow only those who are prepared to work.
The DCE, Mr Doku, on his part told this reporter during telephone conversation that when he was informed of the plight of the stranded workers last Friday night, he arranged with the Principal of the institute to provide only temporary accommodation for those who could not travel back to their homes on Saturday and that he was surprised that they remained in the school.
The major worry of Mr Doku is the presence of females since the institute is a mixed one.