General News of Fri, 9 May 20038
VRA Management Defends CEO
THE management of the Volta River Authority (VRA) has stated that decisions about the operations and management of the VRA are taken collectively after thorough consultations and it is thus untenable to blame the Chief Executive, Dr Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby(pictured), personally for such decisions.
The management, as a body, has accordingly stressed the need for the political background of Dr Wereko-Brobby to be separated from his performance as a Chief Executive.
At a meeting in Accra yesterday to respond to allegations from executives of staff groups and media reports of loss of faith of the workers in Dr Wereko-Brobby, the management pointed out that his initiatives have enabled the authority to continue to produce power at a time their financial resources are severely constrained and the lake is at its second lowest level in the 40-year history of the VRA.
In a memorandum declaring their support and confidence in the leadership of Dr Wereko-Brobby, the management staff said the revisions that he brought to the technical departments, the introduction of Decentralisation and Devolution (D and D) and the linking of bonus payment to performance are very positive actions to successfully manage the authority.
At a meeting on Friday, May 2, 2003, which was intended for the Akosombo branch of the Senior Staff Association and Public Services Worker’s Union of the VRA to brief the workers on the status of negotiations with management on salary, they came up with a 14-point resolution outlining a number of allegations against Dr Wereko-Brobby for which they declared their loss of faith in his leadership and called on the President to terminate his appointment by May 16, 2003 and dissolve the board.
The allegations include the fact that since the appointment of Dr Wereko-Brobby, there has not been any industrial peace, pride of VRA workers has been tarnished because of media attacks on him, increase of his salary by 300 per cent and purchase of vehicles, change of working hours, demotion and transfer of workers without justification.
Others are that of his inability to resolve problems relating to VRA school fees, stalled negotiations on conditions of service, resignation of staff and his inability to replace them, violation of terms of conditions of service and slow-down of productivity.
Dr Wereko-Brobby was further alleged to be a dictator, a tyrant and a bully whose will must be obeyed.
Responding to the workers’ allegations, the management, at their meeting, said Dr Wereko-Brobby assumed office at a time the VRA was facing major and unprecedented challenges and the changes he initiated were both timely and in the right direction.
“They have been thoroughly discussed within management before implementation and have, therefore, been a collective management action,” they agreed in the memorandum.
The memorandum also indicated that the media attacks on the Chief Executive have been based largely on falsehood and inaccuracies and the authority is currently taking appropriate legal and other actions.
“It should also be noted that the current Chief Executive is also a high profile political figure. It cannot therefore be ruled out that for whatever reason, the Chief Executive’s political opponents may have pursued him to the Authority,” it added.
The memorandum denied any salary increase for either the Chief Executive or any of the management staff and explained that the decision to purchase vehicles was taken long before Dr Wereko-Brobby took office.
The management staff said “the process of implementation was by open tender, and that vehicles were purchased to satisfy operational requirements before the purchase of the Chief Executive’s and other management vehicles”, and stressed that there was no malfeasance and the whole process is open to scrutiny”.
The memorandum said the price negotiated to supply power to Togo-Benin is more than enough to recover unit cost and said these were handled by the technical departments.
On the question of working hours, the memorandum said the change in the working hours from 35 to 40 hours a week has improved productivity and was taken after consultations, including a referendum conducted on departmental basis.
The management staff said no worker of the VRA has been demoted while transfers have been effected where necessary to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
Commenting on the allegations about the Staff Provident Fund, the management said under the leadership of Dr Wereko-Brobby, they have eradicated abuse and restored discipline in its administration. Explaining the issue of VRA school fees, they said in the past VRA schools catered for wards of only a fraction of the staff and a significant percentage of non staff and charged highly subsidised school fees, while staff in other locations struggled to pay school fees for their children in other schools.
They said in line with management policy to ensure cost-recovery from non-core activities, they introduced a phased payment of fees and an educational grant to assist staff. On the workers allegation that Dr Wereko-Brobby is a dictator, a tyrant and a bully, the memorandum said the allegation is not warranted and pointed out that he is blunt in his insistence on hard work and timeliness as well as relating bonus payment to productivity which may not have gone down well with some sections of staff.
They maintained that the Chief Executive has introduced a process of decentralisation and devolution which allows other line managers to exercise a greater degree of decision making at their levels.
“The process, which is a major tool in modern human resource management, has brought greater efficiency and effectiveness in the management of the Authority,“ the memorandum said.The management said these and other actions of Dr Wereko-Brobby on staff welfare matters are inconsistent with his characterisation as a bully and a tyrant.