Juapong Textiles Company Closes Down?
—1,400 workers laid off! 'The Ghana Palaver' correspondents on the way to cover the “Wahala 3” March at Ho last Thursday were met with a pitiable and pitiful sight at Juapong where a group of workers from the Juapong Textiles Co. Ltd were standing by the roadside “weeping and gnashing their teeth”. The problem? All the workers of the once-thriving grey baft producing company, the only one of its kind in the country, had been served with a 3-month notice to be declared redundant! The reason? Management had decided to close down the factory because it was no longer a viable venture, and all the 1,400 workers of the Company were being asked to go home and stay home. The situation had arisen because Glisco Ghana Ltd, the main buyers of Juapong's grey baft products, finds it more economical to import the product from China because even with the freight charges and duties and all, it was still cheaper for Glisco to import from China than to buy locally from Juapong. According to the workers, the entire spinning section of the factory has already been shut down, and only a few staff have been left at the weaving section to utilise a quantity of raw material still available after which they will also be sent home. The workers blamed the bad economic and marketing policies of the NPP Government for their woes and for the closure of the factory. According to them, the liberalisation and import duty policies of the Government have allowed much cheaper imports from China and the Far East to be dumped on the Ghanaian market. Whilst the duty on imported finished textiles are fairly low, the Government has slapped a 5% duty on the imported cotton that Juapong Textiles uses as its major raw material. The petroleum price increases, the high transport fares, and the high tariffs for electricity, water and telephone as well as workers' demand for higher wages because of the high cost of living have all conspired to make sure that Juapong grey baft will never be competitive. The workers also claimed that the so-called 'Presidential Special Initiative' (PSI) on Textiles was a sham, as it did not involve local cotton production. Indeed, the workers did not believe that the PSI on Textiles had done anything good for the Ghanaian textile industry. “If anything at all, it has made matters worse”, one of the workers said. The workers further complained that the Chinese companies are faking their products as well as products of Ghana Textile Printing Co. (GTP) and dumping them on the Ghanaian market through the Lome port and they blamed the Government for doing nothing about the problem even though they were aware of it. They expressed fears that if care is not taken, GTP may also be forced to close down soon. The workers insisted that with the recent 50% increases in petroleum prices, coupled with the very high water and electricity tariffs, very few industries will be able to survive. “The Golden Age of Business has sounded the death knell of Ghanaian industry”, one of the workers put it pessimistically. Juapong Textiles Ltd, one of the very few industries in the Volta Region, used to be described as the “Pride of Volta”. At the height of its glory, it boasted over 3,000 workers and sponsored a First Division football team, Juantex, which competed with he elite of Ghana football.