By Sebastian R. Freiku
Haruna Iddrisu, communications Minister
Workers of the Ghana Post Company Limited are calling for the dissolution of the seven-member Board of Directors with immediate effect.
They want their demand met as soon as possible, or else the workers would not hesitate to advise themselves, if the government does not respond positively to their demand.
Messrs Emmanuel Osmond Lamptey and Joseph Hotor, Chairman and Secretary respectively of the Communication Workers Union, have confirmed the call, among other things, as contained in a resolution adopted by the workers at a meeting two weeks ago (February 9), which has already been brought to the attention of management.
They say they want the current Board replaced by a more serious and business-minded one, to partner the Managing Director and his management team to run the company more efficiently.
It is expected that Ghana Post workers might hoist red flags at the company’s premises throughout the country, and don red apparel to press home their demand when the time comes for them to protest in earnest.
The Chronicle sources indicate that the concerns of the workers would be part of an agenda for a delegates’ conference of the Communication Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) early next month, during which the leadership of the Ghana Post Workers Union would push their demand for dissolution of the Board.
Mr. John Sey, the Board Chairman is said to be the problem. The former Deputy Managing Director of the Ghana Commercial Bank has been accused of running down the company. Among the allegations leveled against the Board are that the Chairman, described as a dictator, was bent on removing retirement benefits from their Collective Bargaining Agreement, which he claims cannot be sustained.
When contacted on phone for his reaction, Mr. Sey said Ghana Post was not running profitably, and that the end of service benefits (ESB) was reintroduced in 2002, on condition that a company pays ESB according to its ability to pay. He said since the company was not making profit, it had become difficult to pay.
The workers, however, claim that company’s Board allegedly draws about GH¢10,750 as annual sitting allowance, including GH¢3,070 sitting allowance, GH¢4,200 allowance for the Board’s Sub-Committees, and refreshment estimated at GH¢500 during monthly sittings.
One of the board members residing in Tamale is reportedly airlifted to attend sittings at a cost of GH¢600 a month.
The workers complained that the company, at the instance of the Board Chairman, had entered into a contract with Fidelity Bank, under which Ghana Post had rented out its premises to the bank, something they say, is not feasible.
According to the aggrieved workers, instead of the initial five premises rented to Fidelity Bank, it has turned out to be 20 locations across the country.
They also accused the company of non-payment of their contributions deducted for the past ten months to the Provident Fund, which is part of the three-tier Pension Scheme.
The Board is also said to have engaged a consultant at $50,000 for rebranding the company.
Overtime claims and end of service benefits are also said to be in arrears, while the Board members enjoy fat monthly sitting allowances.
Retirees of the company have since yesterday demonstrated against the management for the delay in the payments of their end of service benefits, besieging the premises of the company in Accra.
The angry workers say the Board met a record 25 times last year, for which GH¢700 was paid to each of them promptly after meetings, but nothing positive came out of the said meetings, regarding welfare of the workers and company growth.
The Board is said to be milking the company dry. “They (Board members) are there to milk the company dry. They are vampires sucking our blood to the extent of spending between GH¢500 and GH¢600 on “small chops” (refreshment) during Board meetings, held three times a month,” they claimed.
For these reasons, the workers want Mr. Sey removed, and the Board dissolved without any further delay.
But, Mr. Sey, during an interview with this reporter, noted that the workers were under pressure to take a position on the issue, indicating that his accusers (the workers and retirees) were not being honest, because they were aware the Board was expecting some monies to pay outstanding arrears.
The Board Chairman said Ghana Post was an old institution, with some of the workers having worked for over 30 years, making the quantum to be paid very huge.
According to him, he was not happy with the situation, but gave the assurance that “we shall see what can be done in the circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director (MD) of Ghana Post, Mr. Abdulai Abdul Rafiu, told The Chronicle in a telephone interview earlier, that the management was doing its best to resolve the issue.
The MD admitted that the ESB has been in arrears since 2008, and that the Board made efforts to secure a loan from the government three years ago to pay off the ESB and other remunerations, but it had not gone through at the Controller and Accountant Generals’, even after it got the approval of Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance for payment.
He said rules governing the payment of ESB require that the company has the financial capacity to pay, but Ghana Post does not have the money, hence the delay.
The Chronicle is, however, informed that the Board would be meeting within the week to address some of the concerns raised by the retirees and workers of the company.