About 500 workers of Diamond Cement Ghana Limited are to be laid off by the end of this month in a bid by the management to cut down cost and keep the company in business.
The General Manager of the company, Mr Tati Rama Rao, told journalists last Thursday that the 500 workers, comprising 300 direct employees and 200 indirect workers, constituted about 50 per cent of the company’s workforce.
He said the action had been necessitated as a result of a fall in production capacity of the company due to importation of cement from countries such as Nigeria, China and Korea.
The company, located at Aflao in the Volta Region, is said to employ directly more than 600 people and more than 1,000 people indirectly from the area.
Mr Rao said the workers would lose their jobs because the company could no longer pay them as a result of dwindling fortunes.
He said over the past two years the company, which was producing 150,000 metric tonnes of cement on monthly basis, had lost more than 55 per cent of production output.
The already bagged Dangote cement, which are unloaded on the open market at Aflao, was killing the business of Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, he explained.
Mr Rao expressed concern over government’s lack of commitment to solve the issue of unfair competition in the cement trade.
“We have petitioned the government about this issue, but we have not seen any efforts by government to control this importation issue,” he said.
Mr Rao said it was a tough decision for management as it was aware a lot of people would be affected, especially the community, but indicated that “we can no longer keep all these workers while operating only 43 per cent of our capacity”.
Reduction in production
Mr Rao said Diamond Cement Limited was formerly producing 1.8 million tonnes a year but it was now surviving on only 800,000 tonnes, adding that the company was unable to give the workers good benefits due to the hardship it was facing.
“We are not afraid of competition. All we are saying is that this importation of bagged cheap cement was economic sabotage to the local manufacturers and must be controlled. Let them build their company here and work instead of cheap importation,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the chiefs of Aflao have appealed to the government to intervene and take the right decision to save the company, which they regard as their gold, from collapse.
One of the divisional chiefs of Aflao, Togbui Nyuiemedzi Anubu, said the cement factory had helped in employing the youth of the area which had contributed to the reduction of crime, such as smuggling and robbery.
“Initially, we were not happy about the decision of the company to lay off workers until we heard their plight. We are, therefore, appealing to the government to take a firm decision on this matter because we cannot look on unconcerned while our people lose their source of livelihood,” he said.