28 March, 2023The Ghana Mine Workers' Union (GMWU) an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, is fighting against continuous workers’ rights violations at Sunon Asogli Power (Ghana) Limited which runs a natural gas-powered thermal power station.
For two years GMWU has been fighting Sunon Asogli Power which it says violates workers’ rights with careless impunity. The power company, which runs a 560MW plant in Kpone is jointly owned by the China African Development Fund and plans to expand its operations to other countries in West and Southern Africa. Sunon Asogli Power is a subsidiary of Shenzen Energy Group, which is based in Guangdong, China.
The union organises workers at the plant and has obtained a collective bargaining certificate which allows the union to represent and negotiate on behalf workers, according to Ghanaian labour laws. But, Sunon Asogli Power has refused to recognise the union. They unfairly terminated three local union leaders’ contracts when they informed the company that they represented the union at enterprise level.
In a case at the National Labour Commission, in which the GMWU wanted to be afforded trade union rights, the Commission issued a directive on 27 April 2022, that Sunon Asogli Power should recognise the collective bargaining certificate that has been issued to the union. Further, the parties should constitute the standing negotiating committee to negotiate and resolve any disagreements they have, failing which, they must report to the Commission. The Commission emphasized that the company should comply with labour laws and stop making excuses for not doing so.
General secretary of the GMWU, Abdul-Moomin Gbana, says:
“The actions of Sunon Asogli Power is an attack on the right to freedom of association and the right to organize and collective bargaining. Regrettably, the rest of the workers are being subjected to daily acts of intimidation, victimization, and naked abuse for simply deciding to freely exercise their right to freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and ILO Conventions 87 and 98.”
The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) Ghana, to which GMWU is affiliated, supports the GMWU campaign against the rights violations.
“This unfortunate development, if not curbed, would amount to a violation of workers’ rights as enshrined in the Constitution and Labour Act (2003) and will impact on our organizing and unionization efforts,”
says Joshua Ansah, deputy secretary general of the TUC.
“We support the GMWU in their relentless support for defending workers’ rights at Sunon Asogli Power station. The company’s union bashing must be condemned. Its disregarding of national and international labour standards is unacceptable,”
says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Although China stopped supporting the building of coal-fired power stations abroad under its Belt and Road Initiative in 2021, in favour of green and low carbon energy projects in developing countries, it still funds other non-renewable energy sources including gas/liquefied natural gas, and oil. Ghana is one of the beneficiaries of some of the loans that have been given to African countries.