TOR Workers Protest Over Shutdown

Bernard Owusu


Workers of Ghana’s only refinery, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), have begun a protest against the management and government for failing to ensure the availability of crude oil for processing.

The workers, clad in red attires and bands, on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 matched to the entrance of the company after holding a staff durbar.

They issued a notice that they will move their protest to the Ministry of Energy and the Presidency to push authorities to revive the ailing refinery.

Speaking with the media, the National Chairman of the General Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union, Bernard Owusu, said it is baffling that the government is mobilising gold for refined petroleum products but cannot make similar arrangements for crude oil for TOR to refine.

“With TOR’s current installed capacity of 45,000 barrels a day, representing half of the domestic consumption demand of the country, 50 per cent of overall domestic consumption can be supplied by TOR.

He said on the average, Ghana requires about $4.8 billion to import petroleum products per annum. However, if TOR is producing, the forex requirement for petroleum product imports will significantly reduce by over 50 per cent.

“A lower domestic ex-pump prices due to the removal of certain import charges like: The freight rate of about $92/Mt for petrol, $101/Mt for diesel and $83/Mt for LPG and a lower financing charges because these transaction are cedi denominated,” he said.

He continued that TOR workers are unable to meet their domestic and social obligations resulting in their children being sacked for school fees, inability to pay rent advance, and indebtedness to individual lenders and banks.

This, the National Chairman mentioned, “has resulted in various ailments and even the death of about 20 staff in the last two years.”

“There has been a high level of frustration, depression, despondency and even suicidal thoughts as workers’ Provident Fund have been in arrears for years in violation of the law regulating pensions, which has resulted in untold hardship for staff,” he stated.

He rubbished reports indicating TOR cannot refine Ghana’s Jubilee, TEIN, and Sankofa crude, describing it as “palpable falsehood.”

“Very competent and skilled workers trained with hard-earned currency both at home and abroad are resigning and going to various companies such as MODEC, Tullow, Ghana Gas, NPA, Petroleum Commission just to name a few. It is funny that some of the highly trained and skilful staff are going to refineries in a place like Afghanistan. Some have gone to Iraq, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Nigeria, and UAE just to name a few- despite the security implication for such staff,” he pointed out.

Mr. Owusu, who responded to several pressing issues by the workers, assured them that their leadership is not resting and would do everything possible to ensure that TOR restarts operations.

Some of the workers also called on the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to ensure that government revamps TOR.


By Vincent Kubi