The Accra Railway Workers Union of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) will today, July 14, 2014, embark on sit-down strike to protest against low level of salaries, lack of incentives, spare parts, deplorable rail lines and many problems facing the railway sector of the country’s transportation system.
The Ghana Railways Company (GRC) workers who are currently operating on two locomotives to transport goods and over 4000 commuters daily from Accra, Tema and Nsawam, will ground the two remaining trains, from now until government improves their working conditions.
Addressing a news conference in Accra last week Friday, the Union’s General Secretary, Godwill Ntarmah, indicated that salaries of workers are so low that they are unable to feed themselves and their families. Salaries for railway workers range from GH¢ 983.00 (Managing Director) to GH¢163.00 (labourer), a situation he described as unbearable because “almost every year a railway worker pensioner dies out of extreme poverty”.
According to Ntarmah, due to poor condition of service, the workers owe banks, insurance companies and individuals “not because the loans contracted were used to purchase lands to build houses but just to make sure there is food on the table.” He said even though railway workers are hardworking the current deplorable state of the sector is as a result of neglect by successive governments.
“With poor contribution from government, workers continue to work under strenuous condition due to absence of tools, accessories and the spare parts needed to work effectively, the railway worker in spite of these challenges have sustained the running of the few trains”. Many who live in Tema and Nsawan prefer travelling by train because is cheaper and faster as compare to bus transportation.
The grounding of the trains will also have impact on food security in Accra since most of the food stuffs are transported from the Eastern Region via train. Mr. Ntarmah apologized for this inconvenience and added that the workers had sought all possible means to have the situation addressed but the government continued to remain adamant to their call.
He noted that the promise by the government to revamp the Western rail lines to address decline of the railway sector has still not seen the light of the day. He indicated that the plight of the GRC had deteriorated to the extent that the buildings belonging to the company are being auctioned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), whilst chiefs have also started reclaiming lands leased to the company in the past.
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