23rd June 2004
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has asked the High Commissioner for Ghana to help resolve an 11-month dispute at West Africa Magazine.
Members of staff at the magazine have been trying in vain to contact representatives of the management company, Afrimedia International Limited, regarding outstanding salaries, pension contributions and p45s. However, all communications and attempts to seek clarification have been steadfastly ignored.
The majority shareholder in Afrimedia is Graphic Communications, which is owned by the government of Ghana. The Institute petitioned the High Commissioner to use his position and contacts within government to help persuade the management of Graphic Communications to take their responsibilities seriously and deal with the problems as a matter of urgency.
“We felt it important to make a direct appeal to someone with government connections in the hope that it may persuade Graphic Communications to take their responsibilities to their staff seriously” said Frank Afful, Managing Editor of the stricken West Africa Magazine. “This unfortunate development, which Graphic Group is not doing much to resolve, is not compatible with the tenets of human rights and is damaging the international image of the government and the good people of Ghana.”
West Africa Magazine had been in circulation for more than 80 years and was considered an authoritative African institution.
“Staff have not been paid, sacked or made redundant; they have just been left in limbo. The management company are no where to be seen and all communications are ignored,” said Institute of Journalists General Secretary, Dominic Cooper. “Passing the buck of responsibility is unacceptable. It is time for Graphic Communications and the Government of Ghana to make every effort to bring about a credible resolution to this matter by paying all outstanding staff salaries and compensation. The High Commissioner conceded at the meeting that the Graphic group has an ethical responsibility in this whole affair. They should take that responsibility seriously. For now, we continue to hope that there will be no need for us to seek redress through the courts.”
Mr Bernard Otabil business editor of West Africa magazine said, “it is incredible that Graphic Group does not see the damage that this affair is having on their reputation internationally as a leading publisher and respected state owned organisation in Ghana. The staff are determined to pursue this matter to ensure that they are paid for all the work they have done and appropriate compensation in line with UK employment laws is also paid.”