West Africa Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a cocoa processing company in Takoradi, has explained that suspension of the company’s operation will not lead to retrenchment of its workers, as it has been alleged in the media.
According to management of WAMCO, the company wants a board to be constituted for it to negotiate salaries of workers who will be fully employed and not on casual basis.
Also, the company wants assurance from the Ghana COCOBOD that supply of cocoa beans will be regular for smooth operations.
Mr. Frank Bednar, Deputy Managing Director of WAMCO, in an interview with the B&FT prior to the Christmas break explained the company made it clear to its workers that it needed to move from test-run to full production but certain measures needed to be put in place.
“Currently, WAMCO does not have a governing board; and without it we cannot negotiate on anything,” he emphasised.
“So, we have not started full operations even though at present all the machines are ready for production. Why should we spend money to rehabilitate the machines and shut the company down or lay workers off?” he asked.
He explained that the company has been on a downturn for close to three years because COCOBOD stopped supplying the company with cocoa beans, which is the raw material used.
As a result, he said, most of the workers contracted were casual as well as being paid allowances. “We have not retrenched or sacked any of these workers; all they need is to be fully employed since we have started test-running.
“The resumption of full production is not clear yet, but I have already explained to the workers they need to be patient for the right thing to be done; then we will call them and even employ more,” he assured.
“The workers’ fate is not in limbo as it has been alleged by some of the workers to the media. They will definitely be called to work after the proper measures have been taken,” he stressed.
He added that the company started with about 30 workers for the test-run but indicated the number will increase when the cocoa processing company starts full operation this year.
Mr. Bednar explained the company is a joint venture between Ghana Cocoa Board and a German investor, and that several attempts to help revive the company during the previous government were not successful.
He indicated that the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo, gave assurance that the government will collaborate with the foreign investor to revive the defunct company.
He added that based on the assurance, the majority shareholder has pumped in over US$2million to rehabilitate the various plants for full production to begin.
Based on this development, he stated that some staff of WAMCO were recalled to undertake rehabilitation works at the liquor plant – which is the WAMCO 1 plant site; and in September 2017, the company procured 500 metric tonnes of cocoa beans to test-run the same liquor plant.
Through this assessment period, he said, WAMCO has been able to produce and ship a total of 150 tonnes of liquor from the beans it procured.
WAMCO, which has been granted a free zone status, comprises three factories including an Expeller Plant, Cocoa Liquor Plant and Hydraulic Press Plant.