The Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU), which for the past 16 years had been advocating for Governments to ratify the Convention, says “It is shameful that our Governments since 1996 have reneged on their promises and pledges to ratify the ILO Convention (Safety in the Mines Conventions) and its recommendations.”
At its just ended national executive council meeting in Accra to review activities and deliberate on the future of the mine industry, Mr Prince William Ankrah, the Union’s General Secretary said: “GMWU members have on many platforms espoused the relevance of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 176 to our Ghanaian situation.”
He said no amount of improvisation in whatever form by our Governments could negate the relevance of the ILO Convention on safety in the mines. “Indeed the intransigent posture of our governments on the ratification process is a clear manifestation of their preparedness to mortgage the health and safety of the mineworkers”.
On the issue of the introduction of the Windfall Tax in the 2012 budget, Mr Ankrah said the Union was closely monitoring all the issues surrounding its implementation. This, he said, was because the substantial revenue to be generated by the state could be used to finance key developmental interventions in the resourced-rich communities.
The mineworkers’ General Secretary also urged government to resuscitate the ailing mining townships of Pretea and Tarkwa. He noted that the two mining areas used to be the cash cow of the nation and the potential still existed.
Mr Ankrah also reiterated the Union’s call on Government to establish a Mining Community Development Fund tailored towards transforming the mining communities to a standard comparable to what is seen elsewhere.
The GMWU also says it is willing to partner the Chamber of Mines, Government and other internal actors to develop a comprehensive framework in the area of sustainable livelihood in the mining economies before the industry’s economic fortunes change due to ore reserve depletion.
It also called for the need to construct a modern railway system to facilitate mining activities and rejuvenate economic activities in the mining communities. “This important project can no longer be shortchanged if the perceived future of the sector is to realize its fullest potential,” Mr Ankrah said.
In terms of mineworkers’ welfare, he said, over the last six years the GMWU had insisted on double digit pay rise in addition to gains made due to its US dollar indexed salaries. “GMWU is further committed to engaging the industry’s leaders in its quest to attain excellence in operations.”
Providing some way forward for the growing mining skills shortage, Mr Ankrah said the situation, which had sparked an unprecedented demand for key mining professionals like geologists, metallurgists, mining engineers, rock drillers, artisanal mining skills and mine planning engineers, needed an urgent intervention.
He added that such intervention would help to “avoid a situation where we can boast of economically available deposits but cannot find the required skills internally to turn the ore into cash.”