General News of Friday, 16 March 2012

Source: Tettey Laryea

PFC Workers At Risk- Three Fire Outbreaks In Few Weeks

Workers Asked To Keep Mute

For the third time in just few weeks, workers of Pioneer Food Cannery Factory in Tema had to run helter-skelter when a portion of the factory caught fire. It took the intervention of fire brigades from the company with the assistance of Ghana National Fire Service to put the fire under control but ironically management has kept tight lips over the issue and cautioned workers not to discuss the subject.

Some few months ago, we (the Aggrieved Workers of PFC) wrote to some Ministries, state institutions and regulators on conditions of anonymity to complain about the adverse safety conditions as a result of congestion at the factory and management’s decision to compound the situation by installing an Offal Recycling Plant within the overcrowding factory premises.

However, as usual of our state institutions, they woefully failed to act on our complains and now the reality is being don on us and we fear even more because every little space at the factory has been covered with the new Offal Recycling Plant and we are finding it highly impossible to find space to store our empty cans, scows and movement of operational machines such as forklifts.

The latest of the fire outbreak at PFC happened just last Sunday, March 4, 2012 and we were all scared to death! Fortunately, this major incident happened on a Sunday when the company was not operating at full capacity, and therefore there were few staff at post thereby reducing the pandemonium that may have ensued with its attendant casualties. Again, the fire brigade came to our rescue and put off the fire. We have been three times lucky within this short period but heavens know what would have happened if our brave fire brigade had failed to act promptly.

The fire outbreak at PFC is becoming one too many and no one is safe. What has heightened our fear is that the whole compound is seriously congested and no fire engine can access the factory to fight fire and engaged in rescue mission should something dramatic happened.

We are reliably informed that the Ghana National Fire Service had cautioned the management of PFC that should there be any such accident they will impose sanctions.

But the questions we posit to ask are:

1. Why should the Ghana National Fire Service sit on the fence and wait for disaster to strike before they (GNFS) would act to sanction management of PFC when clearly they flouting the laws as of now.

2. Why should management of PFC caution staff not to discuss the current spate of fire outbreak in the company if they have nothing to hide?

We (the Aggrieved Workers of PFC) urge the Minister of Employment and Social Welfare; the Chief Fire Officer and Chief Inspector of Factories to pay an unannounced visit to the factory to ascertain the truth about the lack of safety for the PFC staff and adjoining facilities.

Finally, we wish to state that all state institutions and regulators who are in bed with PFC Management to perpetuate these unwarranted safety hazards on workers at PFC must be equally sanction for failing to enforce the safety laws of Ghana should anything untoward happens.