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05.07.2005 Business & Finance

Pioneer Food Cannery To Close Down

Palaver

The Pioneer Food Cannery (PFC) Limited, formerly Tema Food Complex Corporation (TFCC), one of the flagship industrial giants of Kwame Nkrumah's CPP Government, is to close down, and that's official!

This is contained in the Cabinet Memorandum authored by Senior Minister J. H. Mensah in his capacity as Chairman of the Oversight Committee of Cabinet, the latest bureaucracy created by the Kufuor Government even in the face of the criticism in the APRM Report of an over-bloated government.

If the Cabinet Memorandum referred to sounds familiar, you are right. It is the same Cabinet Memorandum reporting the first meeting of the Oversight Committee of Cabinet whose possession by veteran journalist Kwesi Pratt Jnr led to a visitation to him by personnel of the CID to try to find out from him how he obtained the document. Of course Kwesi Pratt told them exactly what he thought of their mission and who they should be questioning if they had problems with leakage of official documents.

The J. H. Mensah Memorandum notes that the overall labour situation in the country contained undercurrents of disaffection. It then touched on the specific case of PFC and reported that Heinz International, owners of PFC, had decided to pull out completely from the frozen and sea food business, a decision which would lead to the closure of PFC.

In a most bizarre attempt at resolving a labour crisis of this nature, the J. H. Mensah Committee reported that it had decided to engage Heinz and the workers in dialogue to assess whether the workers would be willing to take "less" benefits in order to save jobs and the factory.

Nothing is said about engaging the management to see if they would agree to cut down on their salaries, perks and fringe benefits.

Nothing is said about engaging the owners to see if they would agree to cut down on corporate profits and shareholders' dividends.

Nothing is said about the Government reviewing the costs of fuel, electricity, water, telephone and other production costs in order to reduce costs and save jobs and the factory.

It is the workers who must agree to take "less" in order to save jobs and the factory.

A Labour consultant consulted by 'Ghana Palaver' simply said by way of comment: "This is resolving labour disputes, NPP style!" —1,950 WORKERS LAID OFF In a related development, the same J. H. Mensah Committee Cabinet Memorandum reported that between January and the end of May 2005, the NPP Government granted 32 organizations permission to lay off 1, 950 of their workers for various reasons.

The reasons were not given, but are known to include high production costs, reduced profits, automation, lack of market and non-competitiveness.

Most, if not all, of these reasons are directly attributable to the economic policies of the NPP Government, including high petroleum prices, high electricity costs, high water costs, high telephone costs, high transport costs, non-protection of local industry, high domestic taxes and low import tariffs.

Instead of making proposals to address the problem, the J. H. Mensah Committee rather seeks information for propaganda purposes in an attempt to rationalize the redundancies.

Tugged at the end of the section of the Memorandum of the J. H. Mensah Committee on redundancies is the following ominous pro-propagandist paragraph; "The Committee has asked for information on jobs which have been created during the same period", almost as if those who have lost their jobs are not human beings with responsibilities, so that if other jobs have been created for other persons, then that resolves the problem.

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