Gas supply challenges being encountered on the FPSO Kwame Nkumah are due to the sacking of MODEC workers, says Francis Sallah, General Secretary of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union.
The union, which has been representing some 19 workers sacked by MODEC — a sub-contractor on the FPSO, believes the gas supply challenges will be over if the Ghanaian workers who have acquired vital experience working on the FPSO are reinstated.
“It is so clear now that the expatriates are in charge. If they want to tell us the expatriates are more competent than the Ghanaians, how come this system keeps having problems now that they are in charge?” Francis Sallah asked in an interview with the B&FT.
“The point is that most of these expatriates are being trained by the Ghanaians onboard, I am telling you. It is just a few of them who know what they are doing. But most of the expats come in and earn more than Ghanaians.”
Per an MoU agreed between the parties last November, with the Labour Commission as arbiter, MODEC is supposed to reinstate 15 of 19 workers it sacked following a strike action undertaken by 40 Ghanaians working for the company on the FPSO.
The workers were protesting against what they said were huge pay disparities between them and well-paid expatriates, as well as poor working conditions.
MODEC is said to have come up with a voluntary departure package for the sacked workers, which only four of them — who cited the fact that they had advanced in age — decided to take and leave.
Last week the union accused MODEC of reneging on its side of the bargain to reinstate the workers, by claiming it is embarking on restructuring.
Chairman of the union Samuel Quarshie told Citi FM: “We have fulfilled our part of the MoU by going through every process we are supposed to do; to the extent that the guys have signed an undertaking and we have done everything we are supposed to do”.
After the union had threatened to embark on another strike action, MODEC hauled it before the Labour Commission, and at a meeting held last Wednesday the Commission impressed on the company to reinstate the workers in two weeks beginning the same day.
At the time of going to press yesterday, the B&FT was informed that the company had called the union for a meeting to discuss the matter.
On July 7, Tullow Ghana — operator of the Jubilee oil field — announced that following an unplanned shutdown on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah, gas exports to the Ghana Gas onshore processing plant had been temporarily halted.
While the company did not state the shutdown’s exact cause or when gas supply is expected to be restored, a compressor that aids in transporting gas to the onshore processing facility at Atuabois said to be faulty.
The compressor, which works in a similar fashion to a pump by increasing pressure of the gas and reducing its volume to aid its export, was reported in January to have developed a similar fault.
Tullow Oil said it is “working hard to reinstate gas export as a matter of priority”.