GPHA, MPS meet to dicuss workers agitation issues
The Management of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) says it is considering submitting new proposals to government to review some portions of the port expansion agreement to enable the authority retain jobs and revenue.
According to the Director General, Mr Michael Luguje, a possible solution to the ongoing industrial agitations by the workers union of the GPHA and the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU) would be to reach an agreement where the GPHA extended the contract years for the developer of the new terminal and allowed the authority to handle the container business at Quay Two, which is presently being operated by the Meridian Port Services (MPS).
Mr Luguje was of the view that although nothing had been firmed up yet in connection with discussions on job retention, “management is considering several options, including extending the contract as a possible compromise solution, and that goes with the spirit of the agreement”, he told the Daily Graphic last Friday after meetings with the management of the GPHA had with officials of MPS and the workers union.
“A possible solution to the impasse would be to reach a proper compromise where GPHA extends the contract years and also get to operate the container business,” he said.
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The meeting with MPS followed a directive by the Minister of Transport for the management of GPHA to settle issues with the developer on how jobs could be retained following calls on the government to make definite pronouncements on the concession agreement between the two parties before the new terminal becomes operational by July 1, 2019.
Mr Luguje said the meeting between the GPHA and MPS was held to allow the two bodies to make sure the actual numbers of people that could be affected were consistent with each other if the contract renegotiation was not approved.
“We want to see how much MPS can absorb as well as new businesses that the project could create in the port, how many workers the new businesses can employ and how much revenue the new businesses could generate, so we can see how we can offset that against the numbers that are going to be affected,” Mr Luguje said.
“But we can only do that when we are able to refine the numbers on jobs between GPHA and MPS and we need to exhaust the process which would then allow us to do a paper to present to government,” he said.
He has, thus, appealed to the GPHA workers union and the MDU to suspend embarking on industrial action and allow the two parties to reconvene and “try to see what they would be able to put together”.
“There is really no point to try to shut the port down to go on demonstration and create chaos when there is a process that is ongoing,” he stressed.
The union leaders, on the other hand, told the Daily Graphic that the week-long agitations were only the first phase of a planned activity aimed at sustaining pressure on the government to implement recommendations in the 2018 Inter-ministerial Committee report that was commissioned by the government’s Economic Management Team (EMT) and the modalities outlined in the agreement.
According to the General Secretary of the MDU, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, the committee’s report made strong recommendations for a total review of the agreement which also granted MPS tax waivers to the tune of $832 million.
He was, however, hopeful that the government would take urgent steps to resolve the situation before commencement of operations on July 1.