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The General Secretary of the Maritime and Dock Workers Union (MDU), Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, has observed that the privatisation of the operations at the Tema Port has led to job losses.

He said many of the private companies at the ports had turned jobs which were previously permanent into casual ones.

Mr Owusu-Koranteng said this at the opening session of a three-day capacity-building workshop for dock workers in the ECOWAS sub-region in Accra last Tuesday.

The workshop, organised by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), is on the theme: ?Building union capacities to meet union challenges in West and Central Africa.?

Participants are drawn from Ghana, Benin, C?t? d?Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The participants deliberated on the challenges facing maritime and dock workers and how to chart a way forward in the industry.
Mr Owusu-Koranteng explained that dock workers were fighting against the privatisation of port operations because the law violated labour rights.

As an example, he cited the concession rights granted by Parliament to foreign companies to establish the Atuabo Lonrho Freeport to service the oil and gas industry as an example of job cut.

Besides, Mr Owusu-Koranteng said, the Atuabo Lonrho Freeport was not only a commercial entity but also an investment with security implications which would affect the trade industry.

?It is important for us to recognise that the employment of permanent and unionised skilled dock workers is necessary for the creation of a safe working environment at the ports,? he explained.
Strengthening the port trade

The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Joyce Bawa Mogtari, said maritime trade and transport were vital to the economic growth and development of every nation.

Touching on prospects for the industry, she said the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) had signed a $1.5 billion agreement with a private company, Meridian Port Services Limited, to develop infrastructure at the Tema Port.

She said the project would ensure the use of modern technology and also create over 3,000 jobs.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, tasked participants to consider job security as a key component of strengthening the industry.

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