…They have chopped our money, says Moshake
The leader of the over 3,000 employees of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, who have remained unpaid since their retrenchment in 2002, has called for the arrest of three former Directors-General of the GPHA.
Stephen Ashitey Adjei, alias Moshake, is accusing Ben Owusu Mensah, Nestor Galley and Richard Anamoo of collecting, looting and sharing severance pay that the World Bank had furnished to the GPHA for the purpose of settling their benefits.
“It has been almost 15 years since we were retrenched and up till now, we haven’t received our benefit, we want to know where our money is if it has not been looted by these three former directors,” Moshake said.
Messrs Owusu Mensah, Nestor Ghalley and Richard Anamoo are all former Directors-General of the GPHA, with Mr. Galley being successor to Owusu Mensah, while Richard Anamoo is successor to Nestor Galley.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, Moshake, who says that they had been offered the opportunity to take part in a retrenchment exercise in 2002, said Mr. Owusu Mensah was the DG of the GPHA at the time and that Nestor Galley was the Director of Ports, while Richard Anamoo was Director of Projects under Mr. Owusu Mensah.
Later Galley had replaced Ben Owusu Mensah as DG and much later after that Richard Anamoo had replaced Galley as DG.
“After the retrenchment in 2002, the then Director General, Ben Owusu Mensah, had addressed the press at the GPHA Headquarters that they had spent 20 Billion old Ghana Cedis on us as handshake and mentioned 4,700 as our numerical strength.
“It has been almost 15 years since the retrenchment and most of us have not seen our benefits paid. My simple question is “where is our money?” Moshake had asked at the press conference.
He says that when Ben Owusu Mensah was lying that they had spent 20 billion old cedis, he had been flanked by Nestor Galley, who was then Director of Tema Port, and Richard Anamoo, who was the then Director of Projects, at the GPHA Headquarters.
As the two eventually also became Directors-General, Moshake is calling on President Akufo-Addo and the Inspector General of Police to investigate the three.
Apparently, the leader of the over 3,000 ex-workers of the GPHA hurriedly organized the press conference out of anger, following news reports that Mr. Ben Owusu Mensah has claimed that the GPHA does not owe the ex-workers because they were all casual labourers.
In an address to sector players in the shipping and ports industry, Mr. Ben Owusu Mensah claimed that the ex-workers who are agitating are all casuals and that claims that they were permanent employees of the GPHA were false since the GPHA has a system which does not allow people to work as casuals for more than six months.
He claimed that all permanent employees of the GPHA who were qualified for severance benefits have been paid.
“That is utter nonsense!” Moshake screamed in reply, at the press conference, adding, “how could we be casuals when we were covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and had staff numbers?”
He added that some of the ex-workers who have still not been paid had worked for the GPHA for more than 20 years before they were retrenched.
Interestingly, even though Mr. Owusu Mensah claims that the unpaid ex-workers are all casuals, agitations for pay have led to the payment of five out of the 3,000 ex-workers.
Indeed, in 2013, a suit by the ex-workers’ lawyer, Albert Adaare, had been dismissed at the Supreme Court solely on the grounds of procedural error, with Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, who had presided over the case, instructing the GPHA to sit down with the ex-workers to come up with an amicable solution.
Also former President Mills had, in early July 2012, issued a fiat to the Transport Ministry to resolve the problem with the ex-workers, observing that the scale of national corruption was very expressive at the GPHA.
“Corruption has become so endemic in the country that the GPHA is one of the most essential areas of the thievery,” former President Mills had said, following the issuance of the fiat in early July 2012, but unfortunately had not lived to see to it that the issue was resolved.
Following from there, President Mills’ successor, President John Mahama, had also dragged his feet on the issue, apparently, giving ear to what the GPHA, whose high-ups Moshake believes have conspired to steal their benefits, rather than the victimized ex- workers.
According to Moshake, one of the reasons President Mahama lost massively at the 2016 polls was that many of the ex-workers had cursed his administration and mobilized family and friends to vote for the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo in retaliation for what they believed to be a deliberate stall in the process of justice that President Mills had started.
Moshake insists, everything surrounding the continued pendency of their unpaid severance benefits indicates that some people had pocketed the money and are doing everything to discourage them from seeking out their due.
“For instance, in 2002, after our retrenchment, then DG, Ben Owusu Mensah, had claimed at a press conference that our number was 4,700. Nestor Galley, the then Director of Tema Port under Owusu Mensah, told Parliament that the total number of non-permanent employees was 5,000 but later changed the total number to 6,000 in the Financial Division of the Accra High Court hearing over the case.
“Meanwhile, the total list of non-permanent employees that was earlier on submitted to the Tema High Court by the same GPHA managements was 4,195.
He underscored that the reason for this jumbled figures for the same GPHA was that the high-ups at the Authority had wanted to bamboozle government and scare the government from looking into the issue with higher numbers, so that government would feel it would be too expensive to commit to pay.
“But ladies and gentlemen of the press, none of the numbers that Nestor Galley and the GPHA had given out was correct; in total we are just a little over 3,000,” Moshake said.
“To the best of my knowledge about 2,200 non-permanent employees worked with the Tema Port and about 800 non-permanent employees worked with the Takoradi Port making the total number of affected non-permanent employees a little above 3,000.
He reiterated his suspicion that the GPHA had resorted to every dirty trick in the book to frustrate the GPHA ex-workers because high ups there have pocketed their severance benefit and want to enjoy the loot in peace.
“This is why we want President Akufo-Addo to order the IGP to arrest and investigate Ben Owusu Mensah, Nestor Gally and Richard Anamoo.”
In 2002, the World Bank started a program to improve efficiency in port operations in some selected countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. As part of the program, a retrenchment of staff was proposed and the World Bank had duly made money available for the purpose.
However, upon retrenchment, which happened when Ben Owusu Mensah, a nephew of then President Kufuor, many of the Ghanaians employees of the GPHA had been left with next to nothing, with some getting as little as tins of rice.
However, the ex-workers soon learnt that their colleagues who had similarly been retrenched in neighbouring countries, such as Ivory Coast and Nigeria, had been paid as much $25,000 as severance benefits.
This led to agitations leading to some of the ex-workers going to court eventually after several appeals for justice failed.
Their efforts in court were, however, strangely plagued continuously with procedural mistakes leading to Chief Justice Georgina Wood urging the GPHA to sit down and work out the issues amicably with the ex-workers.
It is while that solution is still pending that Ben Owusu Mensah has gone to shoot off his mouth that the ex-workers were not qualified for retrenchment pay because they were all casuals.
Moshake says he is not too surprised at former President Kufuor’s nephew, who had become DG after his uncle of a President had appointed him as such.
“This is the same Ben Owusu Mensah who spent a whopping 46 million old cedis to renovate just his kitchen in his first few days in office as the MD of the GPHA.”
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels