Ghana - Chinese company prevents formation of union amid serious health and safety problems (2012)

A Chinese construction firm working on a road project at Akatsi in the Volta Region, China Jiang International Construction Company, was ordered by the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare to suspend operations with immediate effect at the end of September for failing to comply with Ghana’s labour laws.

The order followed reports of abuse of Ghanaian employees. When inspectors and a Deputy Minister visited the company they found that there was no Collective Agreement setting out the conditions of service. They also found that although the Minister of Roads and Highways had supported the formation of a trade union in the company, management had resisted, and effectively prevented it through intimidation. Anyone thought to be complaining about conditions in the company was blacklisted and subsequently dismissed.

The workers had been particularly concerned about health and safety condition. Four Ghanaian labourers had lost their lives and ten others, who sustained various degrees of injury in the course of their work, had not been paid any compensation by the company. Workers who needed protective clothing have not been provided any. The Managing Director of the company, Mr Wan Wulong, claimed not to know of the existence of the Labour Act and provisions concerning the protection of workers’ interests.

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