Workers Want “Autocratic” Afenyo-Markin Removed
By Gifty Arthur
All is not well at the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), as workers are up in arms against their Board Chairman, Alex Afenyo-Markin, who is also the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu in the Central Region.
The workers have petitioned the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister, Kofi Adda, over what they call “unacceptable behaviour” of Board Chairman and called for his immediate removal. But it is unclear whether the Minister will heed their call, as he is also an MP just like Mr Afenyo-Markin.
The aggrieved workers, who have passed a vote of no confidence in their Board Chairman, and given the sector Minister up to Friday June 15 to act or they will activate their next action, has hoisted huge banners at the officers of the state water company, confirming all is not well.
The banner reads ”GWCL Board Chairman Must Go Now!!! Chop Chop must stop!!”
The petition dated May 28, 2018 signed by GWCL’s General Secretary, Michael Adumatta Nyantakyi, was copied, the Chief of Staff, Frema Opare, Managing Director (MD) of Ghana Water Company Limited and Secretary to the President.
According to them, Mr. Afenyo-Markin “… lacks the pedigree to help realize the vision of the Company. Looking at the ordeals that we have gone through these few months, we are appealing to your good office that we cannot work with him any longer” adding “If by 15th June 2018, we do not hear anything we would have no other option than to advise ourselves accordingly”, the petition indicated.
Ghana Water workers, add up a growing list of public sector employees, who are having frosty relationships with their management boards appointed by the Akufo-Addo administration.
This comes on the heels of similar accusations by workers of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), COCOBOD, Ghana National Petroleum Cooperation (GNPC).
Checks at their offices, show readiness of the workers to use all available and lawful means to get Mr Afenyo-Markin, out of their way.
The petition, intercepted by The Herald, follows a meeting held on May 16, 2018, between the National Leadership of the Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU) of GWCL and sector the Minister, who advised them to put their grievances into writing.
The legislator is being accused of number of issues, including interference in the day-to-day running of the state water company, his position on the suspended Teshie-Nungua Desalination plant, forcing himself signatory to the company’s operational account, attack on workers’ representative on the board among others.
According to the aggrieved staff, Mr Afenyo-Markin, began his unacceptable behavour just a day after the Board was inaugurated on September 13, 2017, when the leadership of the Union met with the Board.
The workers say they were “shocked and surprised at the language of the Board Chairman” that fateful day.
He is alleged to have described “The Union as “bullies” and “confrontational” and intimated that staff could resign if we cannot take his instructions”.
On his maiden meeting, the Board Chairman, is alleged to have directed that all recruitments no matter the category, should be centralized at the Head Office “And should never be done without his approval”.
He also unilaterally suspended a negotiated item in the Collective Agreement that caters for retired staff medical bills, until he was informed it was a negotiated item in the Collective Agreement.
Though not an Executive Board Chairman, the workers say Mr Afenyo-Markin, has created an office out of the Boardroom for himself at the GWCL Head Office. His decision to be a principal signatory to the GWCL operational accounts is also another first.
“This has never happened in the history of the Company and it is never a practice in any company if the same person who is pushing for contracts to be awarded is also directing payments to be made and finally signing cheques. Where is the checks and balance needed to ensure transparency and accountability?”
The second time MP, is also accused of sidelining the Workers’ Representative on the Board after he expressed a divergent view during a Board meeting.
The Workers’ Rep is alleged to have suggested that the Board’s proposal to terminate the appointment of some new staff was against Labour Act and Collective Agreement. The petition says since that disagreement with the Board, the Representative was left out of the next meeting held on May 14, 2018 and the subsequent ones.
“We wish to inform the Chairman that for over the 30 years, successive Governments have appointed Workers Representative, elected by the staff onto GWCL Board.
We do hereby register our displeasure over the Board Chairman’s behaviour towards our Rep on the Board and make it clear to him that any attack on the Workers Rep on the Board is an attack on the over 4, 000 staff which we will resist strongly”, the petition said.
Lastly the workers said, “We are of the view that he is not a team player and has demonstrated to intolerant to divergent views.