Staff of Expresso Telecom are gearing up for the relaunch of the company as Celltel after almost 20 years of shareholder battle in and out of court – which is largely to blame for the company’s non-operational status.
In this light, they held a durbar on Tuesday to among other objectives find a lasting solution to their unpaid salaries and social security benefits in the last four years.
The event which focused on the current state of the company and the way forward drew several workers from across the various regions of the country.
This is coming on the heels of the takeover of the company by the original owners, Kludjeson International Limited in August 2017.
Planning and Execution
The durbar was organized by leaders of the concerned workers as part of activities towards revamping the company’s operations which have been on a consistent decline in recent years.
According to the conveners, all major stakeholders including management and shareholders were invited to speak at the event. Many were however absent.
Some of the staff
These included the Board Chairman, Kwesi Pratt Junior; Director, Col (Rtd) Larry Gbevlo Lartey, Former MD & Attorney In Fact, Robert Noris Palitz and General Manager, Fred Quainoo.
It also includes Company Secretary, Ebenezer Frimpong; Human Resource & Internal Control Manager, Dorothy Akuttey, Corporate Affairs Manager, Dulcie Ofori Akuffo and Consultant to the company, Viraj Bhat.
The Founder of the company, Dr Prince Kofi Kludjeson was the only invited speaker who made it to the event.
Drama at the head office
The durbar originally planned to be held at the company’s head office at Abelempke in Accra was moved to the premises of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, CENCOR at North Dzorwulu.
This, the organizers attributed to the deployment of some 10 armed police personnel at the company’s premises that morning. It remains unclear, the reasons for the heavy police presence as well as on whose instructions they were acting.
Some of the workers, however, alleged the police personnel were there at the instance of the current management – in a bid to prevent the original owners of the company from physically taking over the company’s assets.
The armed policemen are said to have been instructed to prohibit the original owners and the leader of the concerned workers, Joseph Kojo Nkansah from entering the premises – aided by photographs of the persons in question provided by the management.
According to the conveners, even though the move by management is unprofessional and against the labour laws, their determination to hold the event at all cost compelled them to change the venue from the company’s head office to the Centre for Conflict Resolution, CENCOR at North Dzorwulu also in Accra.
Notwithstanding what could be described as an initial setback, the event came off successfully as the workers took turns to share their views on the way forward to the payment of their outstanding salaries and pension contributions.
The founder, Dr Prince Kofi Kludjeson in his speech also reaffirmed their commitment to pay the monies owed the workers and put the company back on a strong footing.
“We have already budgeted for all such expenses in addition to other operational costs incurred by way of service contracts with other partners in the last few years.
“Our challenge has been access to the payroll from the HR Department as all attempts with official letters have proved futile. We are, however, advancing moves with an accounting firm, Ernst and Young in this regard” he noted.