Business News of 2014-01-24

GWCL staff threaten to shut down production plant

A dispute between the management of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and staff of the Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area Production Unit (ATMA) over the payment of overtime allowances has degenerated into a threat by the staff to shut down five water production plants at the end of the month if the monies due them are not paid.

The workers, numbering 180, have also demanded the resignation of the Chief Manager of the ATMA, Mr Emmanuel K. Appiah, who they accuse of arrogance, corruption and disrespect.

The plants, namely the Kpong, Weija and Ada Kesseve headworks and the Tema and Accra booster stations, supply water to Tema, Accra and some settlements close to the two metropolises.

The leader of the agitated workers, Joseph Mensah, told the Daily Graphic that as part of the Collective Agreement (CA) of the company, workers were entitled to overtime allowances.

But he claimed that since Mr Appiah assumed office, he had failed to ensure that monies due workers were paid them.

Also, he said, Mr Appiah had produced a new duty roster which eliminated overtime hours.

Mr Mensah also accused Mr Appiah of corruption, saying a clique had been established at the ATMA head office, which was headed by the Chief Manager and which siphoned money into private pockets.

Another leader of the workers, Moses Anum, said Mr Appiah, contrary to a government directive that hampers should not be distributed at Christmas at the expense of the state, gave out hampers to the tune of GH¢12,000.

That amount, he said, could have been used to repair machines at the treatment plants and for the replacement of old parts to boost water supply.

“Currently, some of our machines need replacement of parts to make them function efficiently but due to the failure of management to replace those parts, the machines are idle. It is difficult to understand what the priorities of management are,” he said.

Mr Anum said there had been an old practice of allocating 25 kilogrammes of rice and a gallon of oil at the end of every year to each worker within the ATMA but when Mr Appiah assumed office, he cancelled that offer without recourse to the workers’ agreement.

Instead, he said, Mr Appiah allocated to each worker 10 kilogrammes of rice and a litre of oil, a deal which workers had rejected.

“We have made it known to him that we do not want the rice so he should take it to his home. We are simply not interested,” he said.

When the Daily Graphic contacted Mr Appiah on the premises of the ATMA headquarters on Wednesday, he failed to deny or confirm the allegations.

Instead, he brought in the Chief Manager of the GWCL in charge of Public Relations, Mr Michael Agyeman, who also failed to confirm or deny the allegations but sought to dissuade the reporter from going ahead with the publication.

“We do not want anything in the papers which would cause fear and panic,” he said, adding that the issues raised “could be false.”

However, he said, they would be brought to the attention of the Managing Director and investigated.

According to him, Mr Appiah assumed office only in October and there were no indications yet that he had engaged in any untoward act.