Ignatius Baffour-Awuah (middle), Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, in a discussion with Isaac Bampoe Addo (2nd from left), Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, and others after the meeting 
Ignatius Baffour-Awuah (middle), Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, in a discussion with Isaac Bampoe Addo (2nd from left), Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, and others after the meeting 
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Employment Minister engages Organised Labour over sale of SSNIT hotels

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, has opened discussions with Organised Labour in a bid to resolve the controversial sale of some Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) owned hotels to an indigenous hotel operator, Rock City Hotels.

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As of press time yesterday, the minister, who is also responsible for pensions, was scheduled to engage organised labour which had vowed to pursue the issue by all legitimate means, including industrial actions.

President Nana Akufo-Addo recently addressed concerns raised by organised labour over the sale of 60 per cent of SSNIT’s stake in four hotels to the Rock City Hotel, owned by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong.

He subsequently directed the employment and labour minister to engage organised labour on the matter, following a petition from the latter to the President to stop the sale of the hotels.

In a media engagement, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), confirmed the President’s directive, saying “we wrote to the President that we needed to engage him on this [sale of the SSNIT hotels], and he referred it to the minister to start the engagement with us”.

Meeting

Present at yesterday’s meeting were the Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah; the Executive Secretary of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG), Dr Isaac Bampoe Addo, and the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Thomas Musah.

Others included representatives of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), the Director-General of SSNIT, Kofi Osafo-Maafo, some management members and technical staff from the ministry.

Mr Baffour-Awuah told journalists after the meeting that it was one of the fact-finding engagements with SSNIT and labour to help him understand perspectives of the matter. He said he would continue the engagements with other stakeholders and later present the outcome to Cabinet.

"I wouldn't want to go into the nitty-gritty of what was discussed here. The most important thing is that I want to use your medium to inform the nation that we are not sleeping on the issue.

"I have already met with management of SSNIT, the board of NPRA and I am still consulting, labour is the third stakeholder I have met," Mr Baffour-Awuah said. On timelines, the minister was not specific except to say that “what must be done must be done well”.

Public attention

The issue of the sale of the hotels was brought to public attention by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa. The MP has since petitioned the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the various allegations, including conflict of interest, abuse of power, lack of due process, procurement breaches, cronyism and graft.

Reaction

In reaction, the management of SSNIT explained that the criterial set out in the Request for Proposal (RFP) indicated Rock City Hotel Limited submitted the best and strongest technical and financial proposal among all the bids received.

The process, it said, started in 2018 and was in its final stages, and therefore, not yet concluded. “The Trust commenced the process with the engagement of a Transaction Advisor through the ICT method of procurement, with publication of advertisements in the Daily Graphic on November 14, 2018, and in the Ghanaian Times on November 15, 2018.

“The advertisement was also published in an international magazine, The Economist, in its January 5-11, 2019 edition,” it said. It, however, clarified that only four hotels were being sold and not six as alleged by Mr Ablakwa.

They are the Labadi Beach Hotel, La Palm Royal Beach Resort, Ridge Royal Hotel and Elmina Beach Resort. It added that bids for Busua Beach Resort and Trust Lodge were considered to be unsuccessful, and therefore, no longer part of the hotels covered in the process.

The management said since Mr Ablakwa had mentioned that CHRAJ had been petitioned to conduct full-scale investigation into the sale of the hotels, it would not comment further, given the forthcoming investigations by CHRAJ.

It said management would cooperate fully with CHRAJ in the investigation process. 

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