Junior staff members of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) have called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, dissolve the seven-member Board of Directors of the company for inefficiency.
According to the workers, the board members lack the expertise and competence to handle a corporate entity like the nation’s only oil refinery. They noted that the board members seemed to be interested in drawing fuel from the refinery and other filling stations outside the refinery, as well as take fat sitting allowances and bonuses without doing what is expected of them.
The workers alleged that between January and July this year, a whopping GH¢200,020.53 (¢2 billion old Ghana cedis) has been spent on the board members in sitting allowances, bonuses, fuel from TOR, and monthly fuel coupons for filling stations outside TOR.
“This amount excludes their lunch and lodging before, during, and after their meetings,” the workers claimed. The breakdown of the figure is as follows: “Bonuses for the board members as at December, 2012 – GH¢43,333.33; sitting allowances from January to July, 2013 – GH¢103,349.00; fuel consumed by the board members at TOR filling station alone, from January to July 2013 – GH¢11,838.20, and monthly fuel coupons for the board members for filling stations outside TOR – GH¢41,500.00.”
This came to light when the workers embarked upon a short but powerful agitation at the premises of the refinery on Tuesday, when members of the management and executive members of the senior staff union of TOR, and Union of Industries, Commerce and Finance (UNICOF) held a meeting to discuss the mandate of the workers to negotiate for salary increase.
The workers first converged within the walls of the company quietly observing what was going on at 13:00 hours. But when the meeting prolonged, the workers became agitated and started showing glimpses of impatience, shouting in the process.
Addressing the media after the meeting later in the night, Emmanuel Eduah Offoh, Chairman of the Junior Staff Union, which is the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union of TOR, said the reason for the agitation was the workers’ mandate to bargain their salary increase for 2013.
He said, since January this year to date, they had been chasing management to come to the negotiation table to discuss their mandate for a salary increment, but were told that the board did not have the mandate to allow them do the negotiation.
Meanwhile, the board has approved a salary increment of 120% for the Managing Director of the refinery, Mr. Ato Ampiah, and backdated it to June, 2010, even though it claimed that it did not have the mandate to do so for the workers.
According to Mr. Eduah Offoh, the TOR Managing Director had since collected his back pay from June 2010 to date.
The Chairman of the Junior Staff Union disclosed that if, as a board, they had not been able to approve of the 2013 corporate budget for the company, as at August, then how were they running the refinery?
He explained that the workers were of the opinion that the Board had stabbed them in the back, because, in order for them to have a smooth negotiation process, the workers sacrificed all they had, including their lives, to ensure that they put the company in good shape before they talked about negotiation, but it looked as if the Board was not enthused with their gesture.
“As partners of the refinery, we decided to help put the refinery in shape, which, indeed, we have succeeded, so that when we get to the negotiation table, at least, they could see eye to eye with us. We did all these things, to the extent that we work in the plant without protective gears.
“We sacrificed our lives for this company, and now that we are here, this is what management is telling us – that they don’t have anything for us. We will not agree to that. This is why we are calling on government to dissolve the board,” he noted.
In the meantime, the management of the refinery is tightlipped over the issue, and has refused to comment on it.