Workers of the Tema Oil Refinery, during the May Day Celebration, poured out their frustration about the deepening crisis at the nation’s strategic oil installation and called on President Mills to wake up from his slumber to save the organisation.
The message of the disappointed workers was succinctly captured on one of their placards: “Mr President, Save TOR Now or Never!”
The crisis facing TOR appears to have reached a crescendo, with many disappointed workers leaving for work opportunities in the Middle East refineries and other local organisations.
Credible information available to the New Statesman indicates that TOR’s two Plants (RFCC & CDU) have been shut down completely since early March 2012, with virtually no activity taking place at the nation’s strategic oil installation.
Spare parts to carry out maintenance work, which were ordered and had arrived at the Port since 2009, have not been cleared and have been left at the mercy of the weather.
Staff contributions to Credit Union, Provident Fund and SSNIT are in arrears, which the workers say is dangerous for their future in case of any eventuality.
Some insiders attribute the crisis to TOR’s inability to secure Letters of Credit, as well as the non-availability of working capital, following the failure of the Mills-Mahama government to fulfil its August 2011 promise to provide working capital for TOR.
Others have blamed the poor handling of TOR on the decision by the Mills-Mahama led National Democratic Congress government to allow the importation of finished petroleum products instead of importing crude oil for refinery.
According to workers of TOR “authorities are only interested in bringing in finished petroleum products and turning TOR into depot,” insisting that government had allowed that arrangement “to create the conditions for some greedy bastards to enrich themselves at the expense of the collective interest of the nation.”
“As we speak, some experienced staffs that cannot see any future of TOR have left for the Middle East Refineries and other local organizations, which the MD and BOD do not care about. When such issue was brought to the notice of the management, they said those workers can go. To some of us, this is detrimental to the running of the refinery,” one disappointed worker told the New Statesman yesterday.
The workers have also accused TOR’s Board of Directors of holding regular meetings and taking juicy allowances, without making any effort at addressing the current crises.
On August 8, 2011 TOR Union executives, led by the Secretary General of TUC, Kofi Asamoah, General Secretaries of UNICOF and GTPCWU, Kofi Davor and EA Mensah respectively, and chairman of Tema District Council of Labour, Wilson Agana, met a Cabinet team led by the Vice President at the Castle-Osu on the crisis at TOR.
At the said meeting, the Union executives drew attention to the fact that because TOR, just like the VRA, and ECG, is under the Ministry of Energy, government should take care of it financially just as it injects funds into the maintenance of VRA and ECG.
They also insisted that the Assay Data had proven that TOR could refine or process the Jubilee Crude, and wondered why the minister of energy and his cohorts had prevented TOR from taking some of the parcels belonging to Ghana for refinery.
Vice President John Mahama, according to our sources, agreed TOR should be extended the same financial assistance granted the VRA and ECG to facilitate its operations. Consequently, government agreed to give TOR a re-tooling amount of $56m to improve plant efficiency.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwabena Duffuor, who was also present at the meeting, disclosed that the TOR Debt Recovery Levy had accumulated GHS270m, as of August 2011. He therefore promised to provide $200m to TOR as working capital and use the levy as collateral.
But, the New Statesman can report that none of these promises have been redeemed by the Mills-Mahama led NDC government, while TOR keeps on deteriorating in a situation where some workers even work with bare hands in the plant because there are no gloves.
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