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Government moves to supervise Gold Fields retrenchment exercise after bloody clashes - Ghanamma

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A new roadmap has been drawn to address the impasse between Gold Fields Ghana Limited and the Ghana Mines workers Union over the ongoing retrenchment exercise at the company.

At an emergency meeting in Accra Monday, the Labour Relations and Lands Ministries have given the Union a 72-hour ultimatum to submit its grievances regarding the exercise for an amicable settlement.

A protest by the workers of Gold Fields Tarkwa mines in the Western Region turned bloody after they clashed with a team of military personnel there.

At least seven workers are in the custody of the police for participating in the protest without an approval from the appropriate authorities.

An Accra High Court on March 2, 2018, dismissed a suit filed by the workers in December last year to stop the retrenchment exercise.

The multinational mining giant has said the layoff plans will enable it to hire a contractor to operate its biggest mine in West Africa.

Out of at least 2,300 workers expected to be disengaged, Gold Fields has said more than 1,200 of them have “happily” signed the retrenchment letters.

But the protesting workers have dismissed the claim, alleging their colleagues were compelled to sign the letter with guns to their neck.

“We went to the green compound and we were asked to sign redundancy letters, under duress with a heavy military presence and anyone who refused was denied access to the compound,” one of the workers told Joy News.

He criticized the “mercenary tactics” employed by Gold Fields Ghana to disengage the workers after claiming to be a “responsible company.”

The intervention by the two key ministries has saved further bloodshed, a development the Ghana Mines Workers Union have lauded.

GMWU General Secretary, Prince Ankrah told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story the Union does not have any ulterior motive but to see a smooth exercise.

“They called the bluff of the workers,” he said of Gold Fields but said they will follow the instruction of the government.

Although the lay-off exercise has the backing of the court, Deputy Employment Minister, Bright Wereko-Brobbey said there is the need for caution in the execution of the plan.

“This involves human beings, it involves labourers and we hope that the constructive engagement between the Union and Gold Fields will result in an amicable solution,” he said.

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