Business News of Thursday, 14 December 2017
Thousands of mineworkers will embark on a protest march to Parliament house today to register their displeasure with unconventional means of laying off workers in multinational mining companies.
The protesters, who are members of the Ghana Mine Workers Union which has more than 12,000 members, indicated that there was the need for government to intervene in the recent happenings in the mining industry.
This was made known in Accra on Wednesday when the leaders of the union and some members met journalists after an emergency National Executive Committee meeting.
Speaking on behalf of the workers, the National Chairman of the union, Mr Mensah Kwarko Gyakari, said: “We will not be taken for granted. The multinational mining companies cannot take us for a ride. We will use all legal means to get justice for our members. We have written to the Speaker Of Parliament and we are matching there.”
According to him, multinational mining has resorted to models which were detrimental to the survival of the labour force of the mines.
“They do that with impunity. GoldFields Ghana Limited recently revealed its intention to lay off more than 1,700 workers with an excuse of aging machinery and the mine having only five to six years of its life span left,” he said.
He said checks by the union revealed that GoldFields had not spoken the truth.
He explained that the multinational mining companies were outsourcing some units to contract service providers with the aim of maximising their profit.
The contact companies reduce permanent workers to temporary workers without paying them any benefits.
He called on the government, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ghana Chamber of Mines to help the mineworkers.
According to him, the development will have an impact on the national economy as tax revenues in terms of workers income taxes will reduce and mining communities will also be affected.
“They are taking advantage of the mass unemployment situation in the country and we stand to lose as a country. Look at the number of banks in Tarkwa because of the mining activities. We will be a failed generation if we do not rise up,” he said.
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The General Secretary of the Union, Mr Prince William Ankrah, said the union was worried about the selective application of the Stability Agreement Policy in recent times to the detriment of most of the medium to large-scale companies.
The stability agreement policy, which has a lofty intent to provide support to businesses, is fast turning to ‘a non-compete clause’ that was hurting majority of the medium to large-scale companies in the industry and provided unfair competitive advantage to few large-scale companies.
“It is our strong view that government must have a second look at the application of the policy and address the lapses so far identified as matter of urgency by amending the relevant portions of the law to reflect the current dynamics of the industry,” he said.
He also said the seeming regulatory lapse over the various business models and operational strategies currently being run by some of the companies operating in the industry must be addressed.
“There is a creeping phenomenon of the adoption of unconventional methods of mining that support short-term profiteering motives of the multinationals in the industry but with long-term ramifications on the stakeholders, particularly workers and host communities. Two of such business strategies are contract mining and outsourcing,” Mr Ankrah said.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Trade Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, assured the workers that the entire trade union was ready to support the mineworkers.
“Without workers, there will be no mines. It is shameful workers can be treated the way Goldfields wants to treat its workers. They should beware that we are watching.”