Ghana's oil refinery hit by resignations

Sep 28, 2005 02:00 AM

Ghana’s sole oil refinery, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) has been hit by its worst brain drain yet as a number of its key technical staff members have resigned and are headed for the Middle East to seek greener pastures.
Reports from the company say that as at September 23, 2005, 14 of its well-trained key technical staff members had tendered in their letters of resignation. The senior technical staff members worked at the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking plant and the Utilities Unit of TOR.

Those who have resigned are making their way to refineries in either Qatar or Oman in the Middle East. According to reports the refineries in Oman and Qatar pay $ 2,000 to the least qualified staff members, while they pay between $ 5,000 and $ 8,000 (non taxable) salaries a month to technical staff members.
Also, it is reported that Qatar and Oman refineries pay travelling costs for their staff members, buy them houses and cars.

According to officers of the TOR refinery, majority of those who resigned had for the past 15 years rendered invaluable service to the company. Ghana’s minister of energy, Professor Mike Ocquaye, who seems very displeased with the resignations described the move as unfortunate. Under TOR’s regulations, the officers should have given a three-month notice to enable the management of TOR to institute the necessary measures to avert any operational problems.
“At least if enough notice was given, we would have had three months to prepare," the disappointed minister told in Accra. He has also described the action of the workers as unpatriotic but has been quick to add that as a free country, the workers had the right to work anywhere they wished to.

The public affairs manger of TOR, Abba Lokko expressing similar sentiments, has said that TOR had no other choice but to respect the decision of the staff members who have resigned although their services were immensely needed.
Lokko, added that the loss of very key skilled and competent staff members posed a threat to thesmooth operations of the refinery. She also said that the refinery has put in place short, medium and long strategies to address the problem. In the immediate and short-term, the strategy would be to link up with SK Corporation of Korea to send down some of its technical staff members to assist in the operations of TOR.

Ten staff members of SK Corporation comprising technicians and engineers would arrive in Ghana to help in the refinery’s operation as well as train more people to run the Residual Fluidised Catalytic Cracking plant and other technical units.
In addition, SK Corporation will do a crash programme to train new staff members who will be recruited to fill the vacancies temporarily. Moreover other staff members will be reshuffled from other departments to augment operations of the plant.

In the medium term TOR intends to recruit new people to be trained to replace permanently the departed staff. The long-term strategy would involve reviewing conditions of service and adopting pragmatic measures to retain staff members.
The management of TOR has appealed to the remaining staff members to stay and help in the refinery’s operations in order to ensure a regular and uninterrupted supply of petroleum products in the country. Meanwhile, the plant has been shut down for routine maintenance, which will take five days to complete.

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