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Business News Tue, 9 Jan 2018

WAMCO denies laying off new workers

The Management of West Africa Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a cocoa processing company in Takoradi has described as unfounded media reports that their short break in production was to lay off workers employed recently.

"The fate of the workers is not in a limbo as had been alleged by some of the workers themselves to newsmen. They would definitely be called to work after the proper measures are taken", he stressed.

Mr Frank Bednar, Deputy Managing Director of WAMCO explained that the company was in recession for close to three years because COCOBOD stopped supplying the company with beans.

He indicated that the company was a joint venture between Ghana Cocoa Board and a German investor and that several attempts to help revive the company those days were not successful.

Mr Bednar noted that when the new government took over the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, gave assurance that they would collaborate with the foreign investor to revive the defunct company based on which the majority shareholder pumped in more than $2 million dollars to rehabilitate the various plants for full production to begin.

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"Some staff of WAMCO were recalled to undertake rehabilitation works at the Liquor plant which is the WAMCO 1 plant site and in September 2017, the company procured 500 metric tonnes of cocoa beans to test run the same liquor plant".

"WAMCO through the assessment period was able to produce and ship a total of 150 tonnes of liquor from the beans they procured".

He noted that prior to the Christmas break, he made it clear to workers that the company needed to move from test run to full production but certain measures needed to be put in place.

He explained that the majority shareholder needed to have the assurance from COCOBOD that it would be able to supply cocoa beans on regular basis to WAMCO to encourage the management and shareholders of the company to constitute a governing board to embark on salary negotiations.

“Currently, WAMCO does not have a governing board and without it we cannot negotiate on anything.

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"So we have not started full operations even though currently all the machines are ready for production. Why should we spend money to rehabilitate the machines and shut the company down or lay workers off.

"The resumption of full production is not clear yet but I have already explained to the workers to be patient for the right things to be done then we will call them and even employ more", he assured.

According to management of WAMCO, the company started with about 30 workers for the test run but indicated that the number would increase when the cocoa processing company starts full operations this year.

WAMCO, which has been granted a free zone board status, comprises three factories, including; Expeller Plant, Cocoa Liquor Plant and Hydraulic Press Plant.

The first two plants are in WAMCO 1-Expeller Plant and the other at WAMCO 2.

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The expeller plant uses the expeller methods for the extraction of butter from the cocoa beans.

The crude butter extracted is then purified, deodorised and packaged with the brand name, “Deodorised Butter”, and “Expeller Cocoa Cake.”

At the Cocoa Liquor Plant, roasted cocoa beans are winnowed and the nibs milled into a fine paste which is sterilised, cooled by tempering machine and blocked as Natural Cocoa Liquor.

The plant has a facility to alkalise the liquor.

Source: ghananewsagency.org