Leadership of the retrenched Ghana railway workers have apologized to the Minister for Railways Development and Member of Parliament (MP) for Essikado-Ketan Constituency, Joe Ghartey, for allegedly tarnishing his reputation.
It would be recalled that in the run-up to the December 7, 2020, general elections, the retrenched workers claimed that Mr. Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice had gone for their severance package and refused to release it to them.
According to the retrenched workers, the government of Ghana had prior to the elections, paid their monies to the Minister, but he was deliberately refusing to pay them; a claim Mr. Ghartey denied as the laws of Ghana does not even allow payments of such monies to be made personally to any Minister.
Realizing the unfortunate reputation damage they have caused the Minister, the leadership of the 1st October Retrenched Railway Staff Association (2006) on Thursday, December 24, 2020, visited Joe Ghartey at his private residence in Essikado to seek his forgiveness.
The retrenched workers were led by their Secretary, Edward Roberts.
“As a result of our plight, where we were living in a state of distress and pain, we allowed ourselves to be misinformed that our expected money from Government had been released alongside support to our existing railway workers. After a while, that we were not hearing anything from any quarters on the said money, we resorted to radio station interviews and along the line, made certain unpalatable statement about you which we later found out to be untrue,” they said.
“In view of this, we render our unqualified apologies to you on behalf of all of us and deeply regret any inconvenience our actions might have caused you as a person and as a Minister.”
Prior to their visit, they had written an apology letter to the Minister on December 17, 2020.
In the letter jointly signed by their Chairman, John Kodwo Appiah, and Secretary, Edward K. Roberts, the retrenched railway staff said: “we render our unqualified apologies to you on behalf of all of us (retrenched staff) and deeply regret any inconvenience our actions might have caused you as a person and as a Minister.”
Ghartey subsequently accepted their apology and expressed his forgiveness for their wrongs against him.
He however noted that though the apology was appropriate, their claim had an adverse effect on his political fortunes.
Mr. Ghartey lamented that a lot of the constituents, who are retired staff of the company, were swayed by the said misinformation.
“Of course it affected the course of the elections. Some people saw it as ‘enemy action’, a deliberate action that was promoted by the NDC. Even if it wasn’t by them, and was a coincidence, it was a happy coincidence for them because they could go to the people and persuade them that their monies were with me and I don’t want to pay. And railway is a big constituency on my constituency. Look at Kojokrom, Ketan, BU…railway workers and pensioners, and their relatives are all over these communities. You could see clearly that my votes in those communities were affected by this.”
In 2006, the government of Ghana undertook a retrenchment programme which allowed some railway workers to go on retrenchment
As part of the retrenchment package, they were supposed to be paid some amount of money.
During the former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s government, the retrenched workers were paid half of the money due them.
And during the Mills/Mahama’s administration, they were paid the remainder of that amount of money owed them.
But the retrenched workers went to court, arguing that the calculation they did in 2006 was wrong and that they were owed additional money.
The High Court at the time agreed with the retrenched workers.
Due to that, the Ghana Railways Company went to the Court of Appeals and the matter was struck out of the Court of Appeals because the Ghana Railways Company was not present in the Court.
After the case was struck out by the Appeals Court, the Ghana Railways Company reapplied to have it enlisted, thus the matter is still pending before court.