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High Court Throws Out Action Against Mineworkers - Modern Ghana

Friday, 12 January 2018

An application filed by the Attorney General's Office seeking to compel the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) to comply with Section 10 of the State Proceedings Act, 1998 (Act 555) has been struck out by an Accra High Court for want of prosecution.

The Act states that “a person who intends to institute civil action against the State shall serve on the Attorney-General a written notice of his intention at least 30 days before the commencement of the action.”

The mineworkers filed for an order of interlocutory injunction on the mining company, Goldfields, which sought to lay off about 2,300 workers of the firm due to challenges the firm was facing.

Although the company maintains that all the affected workers would be paid their full severance packages and some others re-engaged, the union is livid about the decision to lay off workers in the first place.

The Union subsequently sued the firm on December 11, 2017 as the first defendant and the Attorney General as the second defendant because of the consent of the Chief Labour Officer to Goldfields to distribute severance letters to the affected workers.

Lawyers for the mineworkers were to move their motion for an interlocutory injunction on December 20, 2017 but the AG's Office filed an application to compel the mineworkers to serve the 30-day notice.

The matter was subsequently adjourned to January 10, 2018 for the AG to move the motion, but there was no representation from the AG's Office when the matter was called.

The presiding judge, Justice Laurenda Owusu, therefore struck out the AG's application seeking to compel the mineworkers to serve the 30-day notice for want of prosecution.

She adjourned the matter to February 8, 2018 to allow lawyers for the mineworkers to move their application for an interlocutory injunction of Goldfields Ghana.

The Ghana Mine Workers Union and Goldfields Ghana have since December last year been trying to resolve the impasse.

The decision of the mining firm to change its operations from an owner binder to contract mining is expected to affect about 1,500 workers.

The company cited unreasonable wage demands by the union, aging fleet, life of mine and low gold prices as reasons for the retrenchment of some of the workers.

But the GMWU described the reasons for the layoffs as “most unfortunate, mischievous and ethically disastrous.”

The union maintained that the firm has enough life of mine and that a claim of fall in gold prices could not be cited as reason for the layoffs.

The union is also livid about the growing income inequality at Goldfields Ghana, stating that the least paid employee of the firm must work for approximately eight years to accrue the monthly salary of the Executive Vice President.

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