Food & beverage companies sack 500 workers

Some companies in the food and beverage sub-sector are reportedly laying off workers as they battle skyrocketing operational costs.

Business Day Ghana has learnt that one of the companies importing food had laid off about 500 workers between May and June this year. Another company has sent home about thirty expatriate staff during the period. 

Their umbrella body, the National Union of Teamsters and General Workers (NUTEG) says it has been duly notified by other companies about their plans to send home more workers.

NUTEG is attributing the development to high inflation, the fast depreciating cedi as well as high taxes and utility tariffs. Over the past six months inflation has increased from 13.5 to 15 percent with the Cedi also depreciating by about 27 percent.

Desmond Sackey, NUTEG General Secretary told Business Day that some of the retrenched workers are not being paid their retrenchment packages due to the dire financial situations of their employers.  He said his office has been inundated with calls from affected employees who are agitating over the matter.

“We are suffering; yesterday my office was besieged by frustrated workers who are being laid off. I also had a mail that one other company will lay off 41 workers by the end of July. So are we building an economy of unemployed youth? If you can’t expand the economy to create more jobs, why can’t you sustain those who are already in employment? So when they are laid off and they go home and they can’t make ends meet, they become social liabilities on this country. Government must do all it can to stabilize the Cedi, “he noted.

Mr. Sackey said food prices have soared by 100 percent between January and June this year.

“A bag of rice which was 75 Ghana Cedis in January is now 150 Cedis. A 3 Kilogram weight of Chicken which was 40 Ghana Cedis is now 90 Ghana Cedis, more than 100 percent increase. Fuel prices have gone up by 23 percent, and cost of transportation has also gone up. So the additional cost of transporting the food will be passed on to consumers. But workers’ salary remains the same. So the prices will go up but they cannot afford them”.

Mr. Sackey cautioned government against the withdrawal of subsidies as proposed by some analysts and social commentators. The proposal followed government’s inability to pay subsidies to oil distributors and the associated fuel shortages.

He is warning that the total withdrawal of subsidies will worsen the living standards of workers, adding that a social democratic government cannot justify any attempt to withdraw subsidies.