A Chinese construction firm working on a road project at Akatsi in the Volta Region, China Jiang International Construction Company, has been ordered to suspend operations with immediate effect.
This follows the failure of the company to comply with Ghanaâ€™s labour laws, as they pertain to the rights of employees working with the company.
The Department of Factories Inspectorate, the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and the Labour Department jointly ordered the company, which is currently constructing the 31-kilometre Akatsi-Akanu road, to suspend work until it takes practical steps to operate in accordance with the Labour Act.
The order followed reports of abuse of Ghanaian employees whose attempts to form a union and demand rights due them as workers, had been refused by their Chinese employers, a development which necessitated the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr Antwi Boasiako-Sekyere, the Head of the Factories Inspectorate Department, Mr Adjei Boye and the Deputy Chief Labour Officer, Mr Eugene N. Korletey, to visit the company to verify the authenticity of those reports.
During the un-announced visit to the company premises, it was revealed that four Ghanaian labourers who lost their lives and 10 others, who sustained various degrees of injury in the course of their work, had not been paid any compensation by the company.
It was also established that workers who needed protective clothing have not been provided any.
One employee (name withheld), who had lost part of his left little finger, for instance, claimed that it was chopped off six months ago by a machine operated by a colleague, in the course of work but he had been denied compensation.
Mr Boasiako-Sekyere was appalled by the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the company, which would have spelt out the conditions of service of the workers.
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Joe Gidisu, it was learnt, had earlier directed the formation of a workers union in the company but managementâ€™s reluctance to allow it compelled the employees to write a petition to the minister on the matter.
A copy of the petition dated July 12, 2011, sighted by the Daily Graphic, said among other things that the workers considered the attitude of management and that of the companyâ€™s lawyer an affront to the labour laws of Ghana and the right of workers as human beings. It alleged that any worker who dared to complain was blacklisted and subsequently dismissed.
The workers showed the Daily Graphic pictures of some colleagues who allegedly sustained injuries in the course of their work and expressed delight at the visit of the officials, hoping that that step was the beginning of good things to come.
The Volta Regional Labour Officer, Mr Briku Boadu, debunked claims by the companyâ€™s management that they had paid compensation to the injured victims and to families of the deceased, pointing out that administering payments of compensation was done by the courts and not by managements of companies.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Wan Wulong, in reacting, said he was ignorant of the existence of the Labour Act which enjoined organisations to protect the interest of their workers and promised the delegation that the anomalies would be corrected.