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Gov't intervenes in AWPL workers, MD impasse

By Frank Mensah, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle
Gov't intervenes in AWPL workers,  MD impasse
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FOLLOWING THE closure of the Ahwia Wood Project Limited (AWPL) about two years ago, the government has sent a delegation to meet the aggrieved workers, to seek their concerns and assure them of its keen interest in their case.

The meeting, which was held in Kumasi last Monday, saw the depressed workers who had not been paid for two years, descending heavily on the Managing Director (MD) of the company, Mr. Charles Adu Yeboah, for mismanagement of the company, which led to its closure.

Mr. Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, assured the workers that the government had taken a fanatical interest in the matter, and was bringing strategic investors to revive the operations of the company.

He also asked about the grievances of the workers, which he later requested that they should be documented, and forwarded to the ministry.

The peeved workers asked the MD several questions about what they believed was poor management which led to the shutting down of the company, but the MD, who was present, did not utter a word, since the delegation it made known to the workers that they were there to cool tempers and seek the way forward for revamping the company.

The workers were advised to put into writing their grievances, and forward them to the ministry which would try to solve them.

Briefing The Chronicle after the meeting, Mr. Isaac Buabeng, the Operations Manager of the company, who also acted as the spokesperson for the workers, explained the circumstances that led to the closure of the company.

He stated that Mr. Yeboah, the MD, took over from the former MD, one Mr. Atsutsey, on February 1, 2008, after understudying the latter for three months.

According to him, before the MD (Mr. Yeboah) took office, the AWPL owed their bankers, Merchant Bank, and business partners, an amount of $1.1 million (¢11 billion old currency).

He continued that the MD withdrew the services and partnership between AWPL and Merchant Bank to Ecobank, which made it difficult for Merchant Bank to deduct the debt they (AWPL) owed it, since the MD also allegedly diverted all business transactions and exports to Ecobank, which prompted Merchant bank to send the matter to court, hence the closure of the company.

Mr. Buabeng again mentioned that after the MD took office, he promised to pay GH¢50,000 of the debt the company owed Merchant Bank, but paid only GH¢20,000, meaning he could not fulfill his promise.

Some of the workers accused the MD of not paying them their salaries for the three months which preceded the closure of the company, and 21 months afterwards.

The District Chief Executive (DCE) for Kwabre East, Mr. Adams Adissah, commended the workers for comporting themselves during the meeting, and promised to meet their leader pencil down their grievances and forward it to the appropriate quarters for redress.

The MD did not react to any allegations on the advice of the government delegation, and left as soon as the meeting was over in the DCE's vehicle for fear of being attacked by the aggrieved   workers.

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