Business News of Wednesday, 7 March 2018
Information reaching www.thebftonline.com indicates that, tension is brewing at Goldfields Ghana Limited (Tarkwa Mine) over the company’s attempts to serve termination letters to over 2000 permanent employees to be laid off as part of its proposed retrenchment.
This comes after the management of the mining giant, brought in uniformed armed Military men to ensure that, workers collect termination letters which allow Goldfields move from “Owner Mining” to “Contract Mining”.
Sources say, it took the National leadership of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) to move into the Tarkwa mine of Goldfields to claim the staff who are union members and stop the distribution of the said letters by management.
According to sources, the workers local and mother union leadership are so agitated over the actions of management that, it can trigger a possible showdown with management later this week and a further action of a possible nationwide strike to hit the mining industry.
The military who number more than 100 moving into the Tarkwa concession Goldfields came on the morning March 2, 2018, the same day that the case between the company and GMWU was to be determined by the Labour Division of an Accra High Court Presided over by Her Ladyship Lorrinda Owusu.
Just after the ruling, the armed Military men who were initially, hanging around moved into action, giving protection to HR officers who had termination letters to distribute to affected staff.
Even though the union on the same day of the ruling, filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal and a stay of execution, pending the appeal after an Accra High Court, after the court dismissed an interlocutory application brought before it which sought to stop the redundancy exercise by mining giant, the armed officers(3 each), sources say, were now embedded on staff buses with HR officers to distribute the termination letters to affected workers.
This the mother union of the GMWU says, was wrong and clear intimidation of its members to force them into submission to collect the said termination letters, even in the face of the fact that, the had filed an appeal, which they have been served.
According to the union, their appeal was on the premise that, the trail judge, Her Ladyship Lorrinda Owusu in a her ruling erred, by prioritizing financial conveniences over legal rights of its members.
“The judge handling the case, Her Ladyship Lorrinda Owusu at the Labour Court division of the High Court gave her ruling on the matter today March 2, 2018 much to the disappointment of the Union. The judge, in her ruling, prioritized financial conveniences over legal rights of our members. We respect the decision but we disagree with it. We have since filed an Appeal to the Court of Appeal. We have also filed an application for stay of execution pending appeal,” the union earlier said.
Speaking to thebftonline.com, the General Secretary of the GMWU, Prince Williams Ankrah, who is already in Tarkwa warned the management of Goldfields to respect the rule of law or blame themselves for the consequence of the actions of the union.
“What is happening is very bad and shows that the management of Goldfields are not willing to allow the laws of this land to take its course, something they obviously cannot do in their home country in South Africa. We have called an emergency National Executive Council meeting which happening here in Tarkwa and am sure very drastic decisions will be taken by the union.”
Mr. Ankrah further stated that, “why do we have the military here, when there is nothing like agitation by workers and more importantly, why were the armed military brought here even before the ruling, is that Goldfields had prior information that, the judge was going to rule in their favour.
What is even disheartening is, they were served the same day with the appeal and stay of execution and so we don’t understand the management of Goldfields actions of going ahead to distribute termination letters. This is an affront to the laws of Ghana and we will not sit-down and watch or allow these multinationals to ride over us.”
He disclosed that, if they have to declare a nationwide strike within the mining industry why not they will, as that is the language may be will wake the government up from its slumber and step into the matter which is said to have gotten into its tipping point.
Our impeccable information shows that, Goldfields initially said, they were embarking on this unpopular agenda with the lame excuse that its current Life of Mine (LoM) stands between 5-6 years and therefore, cannot purchase new mining fleet considering the short payback period.
However, relevant documents sighted by this paper have cast doubts over Goldfields’ claim that its LoM stands between 5-6 years, as a statement captured on Goldfields website, Thttps://www.goldfields.com/west-africa-region.php, raises more questions than answers.
Meanwhile On page two in the report released on February 14, 2018 titled ‘Media Release: 2017 Unaudited Results (Year Ended 31 December 2017)”, released by Mr. Nick Holland, the CEO under sub heading ‘West Africa,’ the Company opined that “During Q4 2017, a decision was made to move Tarkwa to contract mining. The rationale for the change include unsustainable wage increases and demands, increase in operational costs as the pits get deeper and haulage distances get longer; as well as the need to replace aging fleet.
As part of the process and in terms of the Ghanaian labour law a retrenchment process will be initiated, though the contractor has agreed to re-employ a large number of the 1,700 affected employees”.
The full report is available here