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Ghana mineworkers threaten to strike over Tarkwa redundancy exercise -

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Ghana Mineworkers Union wants government to halt lay off of some Tarkwa Mine workers

The Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) is threatening an indefinite strike to compel the government to respond to the concerns of mineworkers.

The union has said a National Executive Council meeting will be convened in the next couple of days to affirm the decision to embark on the strike.

It said the government, particularly the Presidency, appeared to be unconcerned about the ongoing unilateral decision by Goldfields to lay off some 2,000 workers at the Tarkwa Mine

According to the General Secretary of the Union, Mr Prince William Ankrah, the loud silence of the government with the exception of the Parliament Select Committee on Lands and Natural Resources over the union’s documented concerns over Goldfields action, had created the impression as if government was in support of the action.

Mr Ankrah issued the threat when he briefed workers of Goldfields in Tarkwa yesterday on the outcome of the union’s motion for an injunction which was dismissed by an Accra High Court on Friday, March 2, 2018.

“We have raised issues with Goldfields’ intended contract mining and the negative impact on workers but the government, particularly, the Ministers of Land and Natural Resources and Employment’ as well as Labour Relations, have not attempted to give a hearing to the union. We commend the Parliament Select Committee for at least holding a meeting with the union after the GMWU petitioned the Speaker,” he stated

Mr Ankrah said shortly after the court’s decision, the management of Goldfields with tacit support by military personnel deployed to the mine, started forcing workers to sign redundancy letters and also offer fixed-term contracts.

He indicated that the union had appealed to the Appeal Court for stay of execution of the High Court decision, and called on Gold Fields to respect the country’s laws and wait for its determination before going ahead with the unilateral layoff.

The National Chairman of GMWU, Mr Mensah Kwarko Gyakari, said the union still had a relationship with Goldfields with regard to the Collective Agreement and Condition of Service, and wondered why the company would be issuing redundancy letters without the input of the union.

He advised the workers to resist any attempt to compel them to collect letters from Goldfields management without the go-ahead from the national union.

The Deputy General Secretary, Abudul Moomin-Gbana, blamed the government for allowing the situation to degenerate to the state which compelled the union to resort to the court instead of the National Labour Commission.

Last Friday, the Labour Division of the Accra High Court dismissed moves by 2,300 workers of Goldfields Ghana Limited to stop a planned redundancy exercise by the mining giant .

Goldfields had initiated a process to shift ownership of its mine site at Tarkwa in the Western Region into a contract mining regime, citing the short life span of the mine and the ageing fleet of its machinery.

Not happy with the decision, the workers, led by the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) filed a decision challenging the legality of the processes that Goldfields employed.

They also filed an application for interlocutory injunction asking the court to halt the redundancy exercise until the determination of the suit.

But in a ruling, the Labour Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Ms Justice Laurenda Owusu, held that the workers had nothing to lose if the application was dismissed.

Goldfields, it said, stood to suffer greater hardships if the application was granted and the workers lost the substantive case.

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