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Regional News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

Employment rate drops at TOPP

Recent statistics gathered from the Twifo Oil Plant Plantation Limited (TOPP), the largest industrial complex in the Central Region, indicates a drastic decrease in various forms of employment.

TOPP officials told The Chronicle that, figures on total employment rate have decreased sharply from 1999 a year after Unilever Ghana Limited (Unilever) took in charge of the management of the plantation, to this year, TOPP recorded 543 employments, representing about 22% decrease as compared to 666 employments in the year 1999.

Junior staff employment rate has decreased remarkably from 594 recorded in 1999 to 478 this year; similarly supervisors employed in 1999 have decreased steadily from 53 to 46 this year.

Likewise, Figures of Assistant managers employed have declined from 10 in year 2002 to 7 increased in this year.

The only consoling part of the deductions was that, ever since Unilever took in charge of the management of TOPP the first ever dividend which was paid to share holders have increased substantially from ?488 million in 2000 to ?2.175 billion this year.

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On the relative deduction in the employment rate, since 1999, the Estate Manager, on Monday, said, the decrease in employment rate could be attributed to their policy that they do not replace any of the workers who loses his or her job since most of them happen to be on contractual bases or engage themselves in duplicate jobs.

The Chronicle gathered that TOPP shareholding structures are as follow: Unilever-40%, PZ-5.01%, parastatals-5.01% and other shareholders-15.35%.

Dilating on the historical landmarks of TOPP, Mr.Ghansah, disclosed that in 1987 agreement for the establishment of TOPP as a special project was signed by the Government of Ghana.

“In 1978 work on the plantation started with funds from the European Union, the Commonwealth Development co-operation, a Deutsche agency, and the Netherlands Government made it possible for 4250hectares of the palm plants to be planted. He added.

According to him in1983, a 2832-hectare small oil palm project had been started to provide farming opportunities for families displaced by the acquisition of TOPP.

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Mr. Ghansah said between 1984 and 1987 a 20tonnes per hectare palm oil mill was constructed and TOPP factory was finally commissioned.

He stressed that in 1989, TOPP acquired 3000 tonnes capacity storage tank for export of Crude palm oil.

He continued that in the year 1998 TOPP was divested and Unilever acquired 50% of the shares held by the Government of Ghana and was given management control as a result of the good records Unilever had earlier on achieved from establishing the Benso Oil Plantation Plant.

He was sad that most of the 1,016 out grower farmers were not ready to sell their proceeds to TOPP even though they have already entered into a deal that TOPP would finance their expenses while they sell their proceed to only TOPP so that they could pay back their loans.

Source: Chronicle