Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Wednesday February 28, 2018
The Maritime Dockworkers Union (MDU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed concern about the sharp increase in stevedore companies in the country’s ports.
The MDU said the increase in the number of stevedore companies has not translated into cargo throughput which would create more jobs.
“It is not a prudent business decision to have an increase in the number of registered stevedore companies without a corresponding increase in the cargo throughput which raises questions,” the MDU said in a resolution after the 62nd session of the National Executive Council of the union held in Tema recently.
The MDU said that it “has noted that there has been a worrying development of a drastic increase in the number of stevedore companies to operate in our ports,” adding that “there were seven operational stevedore companies before additional 13 new companies were registered in recent times by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to swell the number to 20 stevedore companies, which translates into about 300 percent increase in the number of stevedore companies to undertake stevedore operations in our ports.”
“The possibility exists that the number of registered stevedore companies may continue to increase.
Currently, four shore handling companies have been registered to undertake the operations previously handled by one company.”
“We regard stevedore operations as an important local content aspect of the maritime industry, which provides employment to over 2,000 workers.”
“The decision relating to the stevedore companies would affect stevedore operations negatively resulting in significant job losses.”
“Already, some of the stevedore companies have initiated measures to downsize labour through redundancies while others are transforming permanent workers to casual workers,” the statement said.
“The MDU Council holds the view that the increase in the number of stevedore companies would lead to unhealthy competition among the stevedore companies, which would affect the efficiency of our ports, when our ports are not efficient, it will affect their capacity to compete globally.”
The MDU also expressed concern about what it calls “the political interference by governments in the operations of the maritime industry, which has the tendency to affect the efficient operations of the maritime industry.”
The MDU has been sidelined by policy makers concerning policy decisions that relates to the maritime industry.”
According to the MDU, “Though overtime work is voluntary as per the Labour Act, maritime business which runs on a 24-hour work schedule survives on overtime work and that makes overtime compulsory for maritime employees.”
As a result, the union wants the government to, as a matter of urgency “save the dying stevedore companies from total collapse by reviewing the policy of increasing the number of stevedore companies without due regard to the capacity of the ports and the level of increase in the cargo throughput of the ports.”