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31.10.2003 Regional News

Workers call for probe into Ejura Farms

By GNA
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Ejura (Ash), Oct 31, GNA - Workers of Ejura Farms Company Limited have called on the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment to probe the Management of the Company over alleged administrative irregularities and financial malfeasance.

The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) finances the farm, which is engaged in large-scale production of agricultural crops, particularly maize and also offer tractor hiring services to large-scale farmers or companies.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Ejura on Wednesday, Spokespersons for the workers, Mr Annor Dwomoh, Mr Victor Williamson and Mr Isaac Asante, said they had not been paid for the past five months, notwithstanding the fact that the Company continued to produce maize on large scale.

They wanted to know why the Management threatened them with dismissal when they requested it to give them part of their 10 per cent contribution towards the providence fund.

The workers demanded that the Management should be made to render account on all monies collected for the Company's hiring services extended to large-scale farmers.

They also called for an investigation into the General Manager, Mr Kwasi Asante Daaku's claim to a 2.59 square kilometres farmland at Tanko in the Nkoranza District of Brong-Ahafo, which had been cultivated with the Company's workers and resources since 1998.

They demanded that the Management should be made to call to post all workers, who were summarily fired for pressuring Management to register the workers with the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The workers said they had resisted the temptation to demonstrate against the Management as a peace gesture, adding that they would advise themselves if their request was not given prompt action.

Mr S. A. Asamoah, the Company's Accountant, who spoke on behalf of the Management because the General Manager was not immediately available, denied the allegations.

He said the Company's accounts had been audited and that he was ready to produce it on demand provided the said Committee qualified to make such a demand.

Touching on the Tanko farm at Nkoranza, Mr Asamoah said the General Manager bought the land while working with Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA) at Techiman.

He said the General Manager leased the land to the company to farm on it while he collected royalties from the Company but that for some years now, he had not collected any royalties on the land due to the Company's precarious financial position.

Mr Asamoah explained that the company, which commenced operations in 1992 to serve the Northern Sector of the country in relation to agricultural activities, was not properly capitalised whilst the ADB worsened its plight when it withdrew its financial support to it. He said, however, that the ADB would enter into fresh negotiations with the Company based on technical advice of Deloitte and Touche, a consultancy firm, and expressed the hope to pay the workers when negotiations were completed.

Mr Asamoah blamed the Company's predicament on persistent adverse weather conditions, which, he said, significantly affected crop production, a situation he said the workers were aware of. He also blamed the Company's woes partly on the fact that the previous Government did not pay for the ploughing it did for displaced victims of the ethnic conflict in the North, which ran into millions of cedis.

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