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13.06.2005 General News

GSB workers up in arms

Chronicle

... Demand ouster of Ag. Exec. Dir. ... Amid cries of mismanagement

Workers of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) are bracing themselves up for an imminent showdown with their management, accusing them of mismanagement of the institution, leading to the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) taking over almost all their jobs in food and drug certification and standardisation.

In a memorandum to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyeremanten and signed by the Local Union Chairman, Mr. E Osei-Kwabena, on behalf of his colleagues, the GSB local union of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), enumerated some issues that the minister needs resolve urgently lest it leads to labour unrest.

The local union Chairman, in an interview with The Business Chronicle last Thursday, said, workers of the Board are demanding the removal of the Acting Executive Director, Mr. Lawrence Yankey, the introduction of a new and substantive Executive Director, nullification of all intended contracts, non-separation of the Finance and Administration Department, non-accumulation of leave, as well as screening of all Divisional Directors in terms of what pertains at analogous institutions.

The Union Chairman said there was a serious rift between the Acting Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director-Technical-which has led to low productivity, low morale and non-cohesion on the Board.

Other allegations leveled against the management of the board are that, management paid themselves fat allowances, citing the payment of fat allowances for acting positions.

“They transfer staff indiscriminately, once you do not compromise with them.”

Management has neither an Administrative Manual nor Strategic Plan to ensure an increase in productivity and revenue generation for the organization.

He said a consultant, Plan Consult, which was contracted to produce a costing manual for the board in 2001 was paid $18,000 but failed to produce the manual.

Mr. Osei-Kwabena alleged also that destination inspection was sinking, leading to a sharp decline in revenue. “The GSB has not been hooked on to the GCNET as at now,” he lamented.

He further alleged that scarce financial resources are spent on the purchase of personal vehicles, furniture and split-air-conditioners costing over three hundred million cedis (¢300m) for executive directors as part of their retirement benefits, concluding that, “this policy is strange to the Board.”

The Union Leader told The Business Chronicle that management had failed to make use of the huge financial investment being made by government, explaining, “valuable assets and equipment supplied by the World Bank and other agencies for standardisation to improve the private sector, have been left unused for more than a year now.”

According to Mr. Osei-Kwabena, some of the equipment had not been mounted for use, whilst others had been mounted, but the staff had not been trained to use them.

He said what was more worrying was a letter sent to an executive member of the local union to resign from active participation in the work of the union and labour activities.

“Whilst the dust is not settled, management issued a query to Mr. Osei-Kwabena and seven (7) others. A reply to the query based on union guidelines and principles was rejected by management with the view that the query was meant for Mr. Osei-Kwabena in person, and not as the Chairman of the Local Union.”

He said the workers strongly believed that management was gradually trying to cripple the Local Union, which is against the spirit of unionism. He said they deemed Management's actions also as unfair labour practices. “It is against the Labour Act 2003 Act 651, Sections 127 and 125,” he added.

He noted that currently, salaries and other issues which need to be addressed are at a deadlock and cited an example where management scheduled a meeting but never showed up. He said any attempts to approach them were received with contempt and insult.

Unfortunately, this has been the trend, and style of management, during the tenure of office of the last three Executive Directors at GSB, especially whenever they are due for retirement.

The local union under the present executives has been advocating for fairness and equity in terms of policies, welfare and salary implementations among others at the Board. “This was even mentioned during the first visit of the Sector Minister to the GSB in the presence of the Board of Directors.

We believe strongly management is not in favour of this; hence all possible means to disintegrate the front of the Local Union.”

Meanwhile, the Local Union chairman has said since they sent the memorandum to the Minister on May 13, this year, nothing had been heard from him.

The GSB is the only national statutory body with overall responsibility for standardization and certification of quality goods and services for both local and external markets.

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