The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has threatened to replace the striking Cocoa Carriers if they do not call off their strike and resume duty.
Speaking on the strike action, the Head of Public Relations for COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, noted that the board has put in significant effort to improve the pay of Cocoa Carriers despite the fact that they are not direct employees.
According to Fiifi Boafo, the board finds it unfair that Cocoa Carriers have publicly disclosed details of their private contracts in a bid to call for support for their ‘1 cedi per bag’ agenda.
“There are other persons that are ready to work. We can also leverage on tech and mechanize. However, if we do that, consider the number of able-bodied young men who will be rendered jobless. On the flip side, we have to manage within certain budgets. So, if the situation persists and we have to pay beyond what our resources permit then we may have to find a different means of going about this thing.”Fiifi Boafo
Fiifi Boafo’s comments come days into the Cocoa Carrier’s strike that commenced on January 6, 2021. The Carriers lay down their tools citing poor working conditions. One of their return-to-work conditions is raising the pay to 1 cedi for every bag of cocoa they carry.
Carriers paid in groups
However, COCOBOD disputes these figures stating that carriers are paid per group of 10 and paid GHC1300 a day which amounts ghc130 a day per head. COCOBOD believes that the amount is above the general minimum wage hence cannot stretch its finances any further to pay the requested GHC1600 per group of 10 carriers.
“Yes, we agree that these are persons who offer important services to us. Must we commit all our resources to them? There are other people within the value chain. The farmers are there, the haulers are there. People who play different roles in the value chain.”Fiifi Boafo
Fiifi Boafo stated that his outfit believes that at this point in time, Cocoa Carriers should accept the fact that the board has a challenge and as such should be able to manage their current pay.
“We cannot afford to pay that at this point.”Fiifi Boafo
Cocoa carriers strike
Cocoa Carriers across the country on Thursday 6th January, 2022 rejected a proposal by the management of the Cocoa Marketing Company and Ghana Cocoa Board to increase pay for carrying a bag of cocoa from 62 pesewas to 82 pesewas.
According to the Cocoa Carriers who numbered about 5,000, the current amount of 62 pesewas being paid for carrying a bag of cocoa is willfully inadequate, looking at the nature of their work.
The striking Cocoa Carriers also vowed to resist any attempt by the management of Ghana Cocoa Board and the Cocoa Marketing Company to use prisoners to carry cocoa from the over 100 loaded trucks to the warehouses of the company.
This situation has left the cocoa industry in limbo with Carriers maintaining their demands and COCOBOD stating that not only are the dues outside its budget but might equally let go off anyone that doesn’t resume duty soon.