TWENTY-FIVE workers of the Royal Jade Chinese Restaurant at East Legon have been sacked by the management on suspicion of leaking ‘negative’ information to the Ghanaian Times that culminated in the shutting down of the facility.
The workers were dismissed on June 28, barely 24 hours before the restaurant was closed down by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for using expired canned food products to cook for customers.
“They assembled all of us and told us not for report to work again even if the restaurant starts operating again,” one of the workers told the Ghanaian Times at the weekend.
According to the source, owners of the Chinese restaurant told them the decision had to be taken because “we don’t trust any of you”.
“From what is happening, one or two of you reported us and since we don’t know the person who did that, we have to play safe by asking you all to go and not to come back,” they were allegedly told.
One of the workers said he was paid off much earlier after one of the Chinese cooks saw him talking to an official of the FDA who visited the restaurant on June 26.
When asked whether they were paid their monthly salary, another worker answered in the affirmative, but said “it was not a severance package”.
“I have worked for the restaurant for the past five years and so I was expecting something big for all the sacrifice, but I was given only GH¢250,” he said.
Others received between GH¢60 and GH¢150.
Averagely, workers of the Royal Jade Restaurant are paid GH¢3.00 per day – far below the daily minimum wage of GH¢7.00.
Of the 25 workers, 16 are kitchen staff, waiters and waitresses. The others were auxiliary staff.
Though some of the sacked workers The Ghanaian Times spoke to, appeared worried for being unemployed now, said say they felt some inner relief for being out of the restaurant.
“We knew the restaurant was using expired products for its customers, but anytime we complained, we were threatened with dismissal. Thank God that it’s all over now,” another worker said.
However, a source close to the Managing Director of the restaurant, Bruce Jeu, said the workers had “temporarily being laid off until the matter was resolved.”
The Royal Jade Chinese restaurant started operating at East Legon in 2009.
Acting on a special investigation by the Ghanaian Times, the FDA on June 26, raided two branches of the restaurant at East Legon and Dansoman in Accra, for using expired products to prepare food for customers.
The operations, carried out simultaneously at the two branches, took place after about two months’ of undercover investigations by The Ghanaian Times at the main branch of the restaurant at East Legon.
At the Dansoman branch, the team, led by Ms Maria Lovelace-Johnson, the Authority’s Head of Foods Safety Management Department, locked up the premises, after retrieving hundreds of the expired Chinese canned food products from the restaurant’s kitchen.
The products included cans of Po-ku mushroom, with manufacturing date of November 14, 2010 expiring in 2013; Del Monte quality fresh cut cream style corn (produced on May 22, 2009, expiring in 2011), winter bamboo shoots produced on March 27, 2009 expired on December 31, 2012) and mushroom dark soy sauce which had no information of its expiry date.
By John Vigah