WORKERS OF Tema-based Ghana Agro Food Company Limited (GAFCO) have made a passionate appeal to President John Evans Atta Mills to, as a matter of urgency; dissolve the Board of Directors of the company, citing incompetence and lack of direction as their reasons for wanting them gone. According to the aggrieved workers, Board Members should be made to leave because they are not serving the interest of the company, but rather pursuing what they termed “selfish interests”. The facility is in a coma of sorts as it has not made profit from its operations for several years.
The workers accused the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hannah Tetteh, who worked at the company for well over 12 years, rising to the position of a general manager, of doing nothing to salvage the situation.
They claimed she was fully aware of all the problems that existed within the facility and expressed surprise that she did nothing to help solve them, especially since the state has a stake in the company.
The workers claim that the company, which currently has just about 300 staff from a previous number of 1,200, has not been able to declare any profit in the last 15 years. They questioned why the Board Members have not deemed it necessary to do anything about the situation which has led to the place virtually becoming a ‘cemetery’.
They also alleged that there have been occasions where most of them report to work only to return to their homes without performing any task; a situation they claim was not making them happy.
Speaking to a section of the media in Tema during a tour of the company by the Minister of State at the Office of the President, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, last Thursday, Eric Worche, the Chairman of the Managers Union, disclosed that some of the Board Members have compromised their positions so much that they no longer have teeth to bite.
Mr. Worche noted it was unfortunate that the Board Members have still not come up with measures expected to get the facility back on track even though the company is on the verge of collapse.
A source at the factory explained to DAILY GUIDE that throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, the company was called Tema Food Complex, but it was renamed GAFCO after the government sold 75 per cent of its shares to a foreign company; Industries Bau-Nord (IBN) Switzerland/Germany, with its headquarters in Switzerland and registered a branch here in Ghana called IBN Ghana Limited.
IBN, the source continued, then established a 9-member Board of Directors to run the affairs of the company, and as part of the contractual agreement 4 percent of all turn-over of the company within a period was to be paid to the majority shareholder as management service fee.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that in 2002 however, when IBN realized the company was not making any profit it sold 40 per cent of its shares to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), reducing its shares in the company to 35 per cent, making SSNIT the majority shareholder.
“With the change in the share-holdings in the company, we were optimistic that there were going to be some changes in the running of the company, but that was not to be as things continued to deteriorate unabated until what we have here today”, the source noted.
A Board Member, Kwame Owusu, who was appointed by SSNIT in spite of the poor financial standing of the company, is said to have been drawing 180 liters of fuel from the company every week until recently when he stopped.
Mr. Owusu is said to double as a consultant in the company, and documents shown to DAILY GUIDE indicate that he was being paid GH¢2,400 every month as the financial consultant.
“To be honest with you, when the National Democratic Congress won political power in 2009, almost all of us were happy because we knew that Hannah Tetteh, who was one of us and a leading member of the party, was going to use her position in government to help us. She ended up disappointing us by ignoring us completely”, the source said, continuing that the workers were equally surprised at the attitude of P.V. Obeng, who is reportedly a member of the Board also.
They said Ms. Tetteh, who was appointed Trade Minister, never showed any sign that she was prepared to help. She allegedly kept the keys to the office she had vacated with P. V. Obeng.
“Do you know we petitioned her to come and look at the situation so that she, as the Minister, could do something about it, but she declined and has never done anything about it”, the source observed.
“We did not stop there, we went on to petition the President himself, John Evans Atta Mills, through the Minister of State at the Office of the President, Nii Afotey Agbo, who was here today to see things for himself”, they said.
DAILY GUIDE’s efforts to contact P. V. Obeng, Hannah Tetteh and Mr. Owusu, the Board Member/financial consultant for their sides of the story proved futile as all their telephones were switched off.
Source: Daily Guide
Saturday, February 13, 2010
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