By:Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh
The white Southern African management of Gold Fields Ghana has introduced the uncouth racial segregation of South Africa into their Ghanaian operations.
This apartheid system of management which is unknown to Ghana is having ripple effects on the Gold Fields Limited, the parent company of Gold Fields Ghana, as workers numbering over 3,000 are on sit down strike at the Tarkwa and Damang mines in Ghana.
According to workers of the gold exploration firm, to think that apartheid is only limited to the South African history is a figment of one’s imagination.
They continued: ‘In today’s 21 st century Gold Fields Ghana, a gold mining company operating in Ghana, with its headquarters in South Africa,is not only manned by a fanatical group of white boys determined to subjugate Ghanaian national employees and exploit them in their own country of birth, they are also determined to defend their privilege and their prejudice irrespective of the consequences’.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU), Prince William Ankrah explained to the Business Chronicle that the workers are unhappy with the ‘apartheid management style and other related issues that are seeking to undermine the future of some key Ghanaian management personnel’.
This attitude he said is not only evident at where they live (residential accommodation) on the mine village, where they eat, the arrogance with which they relate to black men and how much they are paid, compared to a black man for equal work done, it is also evident in the way and manner disciplinary cases are adjudicated and how justice is administered when it concerns the black man.
To this end, the union issued a strong worded petition against the backdrop of the racial discrimination, selective injustices on adjudication of disciplinary cases, and the blatant and unwavering quest and determination to marginalize national employees with their apartheid and segregated stands on policy.
Mr. Ankrah and members told this reporter that the Ghana Mine Workers Union has an agreement with Gold Fields Ghana to share 1.25% of profit after tax (Normal Taxation) and Royalties, at the end of every financial year with national employees.
In 2013, this year, Gold Fields deliberately changed the formula for calculation thus ripping employees of money that is rightfully theirs under the arrogant pretext of a hostile fiscal regime imposed by government in the year 2012, according to the union.
The union also added that Mr. Alfred Baku, who is a very astute Mining Engineer who has risen through the ranks to the enviable position of Vice President in-charge of the Gold Fields Ghana Operation with well over ten (10) years of hard work, diligence, commitment and dedication to duty.
He does not only come across as a very courageous Mining Engineer, he is a star and a mentor to several young mining professionals and the Union is very happy to be associated with him.
Today, he (Mr. Alfred Baku) stands accused before a group of racially obsessive white boys, over very flimsy reasons bothering on his conditions of service, on which grounds he has been summarily dismissed.
The mine workers, therefore, questioned the morality of person’s such as Dawie Strydom, Vice President HR and Peet Van Schalyk, Executive Vice President, masterminding this whole vendetta and they are even more immoral.
The mine workers stated: ‘Mr. Alfred Baku’s dismissal is not only orchestrated by some unscrupulous person(s) with the sole aim of destroying his future and career, but also to make mockery and baloney of our localization policy as a country and to shamefully justify why they must bring in more of their incompetent cronies to abuse employees and milk our nation dry’.
According to the striking mine workers, the monstrous and gigantic regional structure sitting in South Africa on the cost of the Ghana operation, under the pretext of running a nonexistent West Africa operation is not only a smart way of exploiting our laws and increasing expatriate presence in the Ghana operation, it is a mere duplication of roles which lives the structure in the Ghana operation redundant and ineffective.
This ill strategy does not only increase both transaction time and cost of business to the operation, it also erodes our profits and reduces actual revenue to Ghana, they fumed.
The Union has, therefore, resolved that in accordance with the signed agreement on Employee Profit Share Scheme, all balances due employees must be paid out with immediate effect; Mr. Alfred Baku is unfairly dismissed and must be re-instated with immediate effect.
However, Gold Fields Limited in a press released posted on it website described the strike action embarked by its staff as illegal and unprotected.
It stated: ‘Gold Fields is analysing and investigating the demands as a matter of urgency. The company also appeals to all employees to maintain law and order while this process is underway, as the safety and security of all employees is of primary importance’.