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Business News of Thursday, 7 May 2015

Source: B&FT

5,000 jobs in Tema on the line

More than 5,000 workers risk losing their jobs by September as a result of the difficulties and uncertainties in the economic and business operating environment, B&FT has been told.

Most of the workers at risk are in Ghana’s industrial city, Tema, who have already been told by their employers that they could be laid-off if the current energy supply challenges in particular are not addressed in time.

When contacted, the Tema Regional Officer of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) Eleazer Nyaunu confirmed this to the B&FT, and explained that more than a dozen firms have notified the union of their intentions to retrench thousands of permanent and casual employees.

"At least 5,000 employees will be made redundant by September and even more by the end of the year. The reason behind the (planned) redundancy is the heinous effect of the current power crises and the untold hardship it has brought on the economy," he said.

Mr. Nyaunu said the union is in talks with the various companies to hold on with the exercise since the consequences will be unbearable to them, adding: “Casual workers in the various companies cannot determine their fate as they are being sacked every day by employers to cut down cost.

“Many casual workers who do not have any collective agreement with their employees, and even employees with collective agreements with their employers, are being laid-off by redundancy.”

The fears of the Tema arm of the ICU come just 48 hours after the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications -- the umbrella organisation of five mobile network operators -- also indicated thousands of workers in member-organisations are scheduled to be laid-off by August, citing again the erratic power supply situation as the cause of the planned action.

Already close to 15,000 workers have lost their jobs since beginning of the year, due to the worsening energy-supply situation that has proved too difficult a task to solve over the past three years.

Labour unions have said that about 50,000 workers will lose their jobs if the energy situation does not improve by the end of the year.

President John Mahama last week urged businesses to be smart and innovative in dealing with the energy situation and not resort to lay-offs as the first response to the crisis, as the power supply challenge is more technical than funding.

He assured that the energy supply deficit can be fixed by the end of the year, as government is set to receive the first of two 225megawatt power barges that will help reduce the crisis’ impact on businesses.

But Mr. Nyaunu called on government to expedite action on the issue with immediate effect to improve the situation.

“Government should make prompt inputs to arrest the situation and seek partnership elsewhere to aid workers because they are getting fed-up,” he said.

Chairman for the Tema District Council of Labour, Wilson Agana, entreated government to concentrate on resolving the power crisis first and foremost before attending to any other developmental issues.

“Government should come to the realisation of not achieving its revenue target as it used to this time round, due to the inability of manufacturers to get the needed power to produce and sell more of their products.”