Unionized workers in the cocoa industry have accused the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Dr. Stephen Opuni, of engaging in dubious deals.
According to the two unions, Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) and the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), Dr. Opuni apportions some of the cash crops, sells and keeps the proceeds.
This they claim has resulted in the loss of over $10 million to the State which could have been used to develop the overall economy of the country.
Addressing a news conference in Accra on April 29, General Secretary of GAWU, Kingsley Nkansah, says: “Thousands of tons of cocoa are sold by the management of COCOBOD which is hidden from the government and for which no proper accounts are maintained either. This is known as Special Sample Residue”.
“The special sample residue is done by drawing an average of 0.3kg of Cocoa Beans from each bag taken over and sold by the Cocoa Marketing Company. So for every 1,000 Tons of Cocoa, they [management] get on the average 4.6875 Tons, an equivalent of 75 bags”, he said.
Mr. Nkansah says they have drawn the attention of the Employment and Labor minister, Haruna Iddrisu, and the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah to the issues at COCOBOD.
“It may interest you to know that these issues have been presented to the Attorney-General and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)”, he continued.
When asked about why they are now raising those issues in the public, Mr. Nkansah says “Something fraudulent is going on in the labor front”, which all Ghanaians must be made aware of, for an action to be taken.
“We have started a fight and we are going to take it to the final conclusion”, he said.
The unions also alleged COCOBOD management has given an illegal contract to a former employee by name Harrison Idris Hassan, who they claimed is the past Chairman of COCOBOD Head Office Local Union and Supreme Consultative Council, to transact cocoa business when he is not qualified to do so.
This man is being aided by COCOBOD Chief Executive and management to go round to coerce unsuspecting workers to sign up to an unregistered in-house union he has established, they charge.
According to the unions, “Those who have questioned the credibility and the rationale behind this in-house union have been victimized through transfers from unit to unit and from one region to another”.
This issue of transfers has affected union leaders and other clerical staff members who resisted the Idris Hassan ‘unregistered union’, they continued.
The two unions called on President Mahama to set up an investigation Committee to delve into the issues with the view of punishing offenders.
Portions of the Petition reproduced below