Beneficiaries of the Youth in Afforestation Programme have rejected the decision by the Forestry Commission and the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) to slash their allowances.
The Forestry Commission in a letter to the beneficiaries said from 1 October 2018, graduates who were appointed as supervisors for the afforestation programme will be paid GHS700 instead of the GHS1,200 they agreed upon at the start of the programme.
The allowance of diploma holders serving as assistant supervisors has also been slashed from GHS800 to GHS600.
The beneficiaries in a letter addressed to the Minister of Land and Natural Resources dated, 23 October 2018 said: “The decision by management is in total breach of the agreement we both had. Forestry Commission and Youth Employment Agency made an offer and we beneficiaries accepted it and appended our signatures, hence, it becomes binding under law of contract.
“We therefore entreat management, Board and government, to rescind their decision of reducing our meagre allowances and respect the original contract to avert putting the much-applauded project which is also aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals – SDG goal 13 on Climate Change into jeopardy.”
The beneficiaries also lamented the non-payment of their allowances due them over five months. They have called on the Forestry Commission and the YEA to pay them all allowances due them before Thursday, 25 October 2018 or “we’ll not hesitate in taking the next line of action”.
Below is the full petition:
Hon. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Ghana. Dear Sir,
RE: REVIEW OF ALLOWANCES – YEA/FC YOUTH IN AFFORESTATION PROGRAMME AND UNPAID ALLOWANCES
The beneficiaries of the Youth in Afforestation programme commends the NPP government for his effort in bringing down unemployment rate in the country.
We bring to the attention of FC/ YEA of the unpaid allowances dating as far back as June, 2018. Most personnel under Afforestation Programme have not been paid allowances due them over five months, and more, even though, all certifications and requirements have been met by the suffering beneficiaries. Countless of attempts have made to our employer to get us paid, but, they have all proven futile. We therefore appeal to our employer to pay us all of our due areas/ allowances now. We look forward to get all areas paid or settled by Thursday, 25th October, 2018; failure to do so will make us not hesitate in taking the next line of action.
With regards to a letter dated 15th of October, 2018, on downwards review of our allowances; we the beneficiaries of YEA/FC totally reject such move. The notice which took effect from 1st October, 2018 was dated and circulated to beneficiaries on 15th October,2018. The letter states that beneficiaries are to receive a new appointment letter, sign and submit it to the FC headquarters by 31st October, 2018. Meanwhile majority of the beneficiaries have not received their new appointment letter and we can see that this is a way of terminating the contract of the suffering beneficiaries.
On the subject matter of the above dated letter; management of Forestry Commission gave two (2) reasons with regards to the drastic slash of our allowances effective 1st October, 2018 thus;
1. Aligning Youth Employment Agency in Afforestation’s allowances with that of NABCO beneficiaries. 2. For the sustainability of the Youth Employment Agency programme in Afforestation.
The decision by management is in total breach of the agreement we both had. Forestry Commission and Youth Employment Agency made an offer and we beneficiaries accepted it and appended our signatures, hence, it becomes binding under law of contract. With regards to NABCO, their allowances were made public even before the programme was launched by His Excellency the President on 1st of May, 2018 and graduates were mindful of their allowances even before applying for it. Also, with NABCO beneficiaries, they will get corporate experience; sit in offices without too much risk and above all their engagements are three (3) years.
But for us in the afforestation programme, our commitments to work can be verified from the fields even without provision of appropriate working gears. We work in the rain, fetch water from distance, weed and level the ground under the scorching sun even without a place of convenience and above all we are exposed to reptiles, land guards and other wild animals and insects.
With these, how can you align us with NABCO beneficiaries and drastically reduce our allowances by 41.6% for Supervisors and 25% for Assistant Supervisors which is contrary to the Labour Law Act 2003, Act 651, Section 69? On the sustainability of the afforestation programme, management in your own wisdom designed with accurate projections with regards to allowances and adequate human resources needed to execute the programme; therefore, attributing the slash of allowances to excessive intake of beneficiaries, as communicated to us at our various workstations can never be accepted by us. As citizens of this country, it’s incumbent on the government to create an enabling environment for us to thrive, especially as graduates.
We vested our trusts in the government as unemployed graduates with high hopes of securing a brighter future through government’s creation of an enabling environment.
Indeed, the government has engaged us as graduates in Youth in Afforestation through the Youth Employment Agency and Forestry Commission, with allowance of one thousand, two hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢1,200.00) only has been reduced to GH¢ 700.00 and eight hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢800.00) has been reduced to GH¢ 600.00 only for Degree and HND-Diploma holders respectively.
We therefore entreat Management, Board and Government, to rescind their decision of reducing our meagre allowances and respect the original contract to avert putting, much applauded project which is also aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals – SDG goal 13 on “Climate Change” into jeopardy. With Ghana’s ratification of the SDG goal 13, we are supposed to be treated special and not to be compared with anyone.
The circular sent to us requested a list of those who consented to the downward review of the allowances. This shows a clear intent of intimidation and making us acquiesced to the new changes, which we are not prepared to do. With that we remind authority about the Labour Act, 2003, (Act 651) Section 63 which talks about “Unfair Termination”. With the humblest plea in humility we bring to bear that our grievances would be attended to by Management and Board of Directors.
We are looking forward to see a circular on maintaining the original contract with regard to the allowances agreed upon.
Thank you Sincerely yours,
All Youth in Afforestation – Winneba district