The Deputy Director of Public Affairs for Ghana’s Cocoa Board, COCOBOD, has announced that striking cocoa carriers will begin their return to work this week, following a nationwide strike which began on Wednesday 5th January 2022.
The cocoa carriers strike arose from demands to increase the loading fee to GH¢1 (less than $US0.20), with workers arguing that their pay has not changed in the past 4 or 5 years, despite others such as contractors getting wage increases. They also cited concerns over the working conditions they face, including the dangerous chemicals used to fumigate the cocoa at the warehouse.
From 4 to 5 years now, our salaries have not been increased for cocoa carriers. They’ve given us 62 pesewas for almost 4 years per bag until now they’ve not increased itGodwin Ocansey, spokesperson of the Cocoa carriers reported by online news outlet Joy Business
Ghana’s cocoa haulage has suffered without workers to load cocoa onto trucks for export. Claims have surfaced that prisoners have been brought in to help load cocoa into trucks. Cocoa carriers state they have sighted prisoners at the cocoa loading sites, leading them to believe inmates are working in their stead. Ocansey said “They know the strike is hitting hard on them, that’s why they have to go in and bring the prisoners to work.”
Meanwhile, Mr Fiifi Boafo, The Deputy Director of Public Affairs for COCOBOD, has given his assurance that some cocoa carriers will resume work as soon as this week, while others remain to be convinced.
Unfortunately, not all of them have come back to work, but we do have some of them who have reconsidered the decision and are back to work.Mr Fiifi Boafo, at a press conference in Accra
Reportedly an engagement with the government saw the price increased to 82 pesewas, but the carriers are adamant they will only agree to resume duties if the loading price reaches GH¢1.
Interestingly, Mr Boafo went on to disclose “we are also putting in other plans to ensure that we do not get to a situation where this action will stifle our operations.” While he didn’t go into detail about what these plans might entail, one measure they are said to be exploring involves fully automating the process.
This could spell bad news for Ghana’s cocoa carriers who, while demanding higher pay today, could in future be faced with unemployment instead. COCOBOD is said to be wary of this option and its effect on job creation, however, “we are talking about over 5000 young men, so to say that we will get equipment to play that role will render them unemployed” said Mr Boafo.
Ghana’s cocoa producers are clearly feeling the impact of the strike, but whether the carrier’s demands will be met or if they will compromise remains to be seen. COCOBOD’s undisclosed plans for preventing similar situations from arising again will, however, be a cause for concern for cocoa carriers moving forward.