John Peter Amewu
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, says government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with aggrieved workers of Gold Fields Ghana who have been protesting over some staff layoffs.
According to him, the MoU is to ensure that the workers of the company who will be affected by the redundancy programme are re-engaged under the new arrangement.
Gold Fields Ghana Limited in December 2017 announced that it is changing its operational strategy from owner mining to contract mining.
The situation is leading to the laying off of some 1,500 workers at its Tarkwa mine in the Western Region.
The decision has been heavily resisted by the Ghana Mine Workers’ Union which has accused the company of acting in bad faith leading to a demonstration on Monday, March 12, 2018.
This was after the Union’s attempt to get the company to reverse its decision in court failed.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday, the sector Minister assured that his outfit is doing everything possible to bring the issue to a halt.
“Yesterday [ Monday], we had a very extensive meeting together with the Ministry of Labour and the Union executives to resolve this issue. So we have resolved and signed some Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry and union. So that is what we are doing to ensure that we bring this issue to a halt.”
Peter Amewu explained that the new contract mining arrangement is in the interest of the workers and Ghana as a whole, adding that it will boost local content.
“The union is not against contract mining just like government itself. The rationale basically for contract mining across the world is the idea of local content involvement. We are coming out with a local content agenda which is saying that of course you need to get Ghanaian companies to also do the mining, so this is in the interest of the country. The principles of the layoffs are such that whoever comes in as the staff contractor is going to re-engage those workers and those workers are going be paid 25 percent of their annual salary for every year that they work and the workers themselves are happy.”
“What we have to guard against and make sure it doesn’t happen is that those people who are going to laid off and paid their redundancy packages, we have to make sure those same people are going to be re-engaged and the understanding they have with the mother union is that they will be given the first right of option to make sure that they are engaged by the staff contractor,” he added.
Layoffs will impact mining sector adversely
Meanwhile, the Third World Network is predicting a drastic change in large scale mining in Ghana if Goldfields Ghana’s new mining plan is allowed to sail through.
According to the Coordinator for the Third World Network, Dr. Yao Graham, this is also likely to impact the revenue from the mining sector going forward.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Dr. Yao Graham explained that the issues must be carefully monitored.
“The quality of work, remuneration and security of the workers are being cut, and it is important to also know that once this precedent is set, the nature of large scale mining sector work as we know it, is going to end forever because Anglogold Ashanti is also lining up to carry out something similar. All over the world what happens to casualisation is that the company protects its returns and the share of value that is created going to the labour force drops,” he argued.