Ahafo region: Over 600 Mim Supremo Wood Processing Limited workers to be laid off

Over 600 workers of Supremo Wood Processing Limited, a timber firm at Bediako near Mim in the Asunafo North district in the Ahafo region, would soon be laid off if actions are not immediately taken.

This is due to the management’s decision to shut down the company in response to persistent threats from illegal timber operators operating in its forest concessions.

The timber firm, which has forest reserves at Juaboso, Goaso, Dormaa and Bechem districts, has all been overtaken by these illegal operators, making it difficult for the company to obtain timber for its activities.

Supremo Wood Processing Limited, which has sawmills, plywood, and furniture departments, commenced its operations in 2017, after acquiring all the necessary operational documents.

To draw the attention of the government over the closure of the firm, the workers held a peaceful protest on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, calling for protection at the forest reserves to sustain their jobs.

The workers, clad in red attire and bands, held placards with the inscriptions ‘We need our jobs’, ‘Forest Commission wake up’, ‘Our future is at stake’, and ‘We need military support’, among others.

The General Manager of Supremo Wood Processing Limited, Francis Asare, addressing the media, stated that the company workers are always chased away by the encroachers who are armed with weapons.

Having said that, he noted that because the forests are inaccessible, they are having trouble obtaining the raw materials (timbers) needed for their operations.

“We cannot pay salaries to the workers when business is not running, there is no money. The best decision is to close down the factory,” he clarified.

He mentioned that there have been a few incidents of clashes between the intruders and the company’s employees, the most recent of which occurred on Thursday, March 29, 2024, and resulted in five injuries.

Francis Asare made a request to the Forestry Commission to assist them with military protection to ward off the unauthorized chainsaw operators and enable them to obtain raw materials for operations, to keep the company running.

“If the company runs out of raw materials, it will result in its closure; leading to the sacking of over 600 staff members. We plead with the Forestry Commission to assist us with military protection to allow us to peacefully work,” he begged.

“We are also appealing to the Ahafo Police Regional and District Commands to protect the lives of the workers who have been receiving death threats from the encroachers,” the manager said.

The Forestry Coordinator, James Afriyie, told the media that the illegal timber operators occasionally show up at the company’s yard brandishing as a warning not to enter the forests again.

Felicia Amoah, a mother of five who works at the Plywood Department, told Otec News that “if the company laid me off, how may I survive with my kids. I beg the authorities responsible for the company’s protection to intervene.”

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