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IndustriALL condemns Ghana Gold Fields retrenchments

19 April, 2018During a recent mission to Ghana, IndustriALL Global Union called for dialogue with Ghana Gold Fields to reverse the decision to retrench 2,150 workers at Tarkwa mine and give notice to a further 340 workers at Damang Mine. 

Ghana Gold Fields is retrenching and rehiring the same workers on contract.

According to IndustriALL affiliate Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) the retrenchments were not done according to the law, prompting the union to go to court. The union organized a general strike last month, during which the military beat up workers at Tarkwa – an action that was strongly condemned by the union.

An agreement to break the deadlock signed on April 4 has the following conditions: GMWU to withdraw the pending court case before the negotiations, and for the company and union to re-engage on the 2018 wage negotiations in good faith and without media publicity. The Damang mine restructuring should be done according to the Labour Act 2003 and the collective bargaining agreement.

Further, Gold Fields wants to select “on a case-by-case basis and recommend those branch union executives with appropriate conduct and without health issues to the contractors executing the contract mining at Tarkwa mine for potential employment.

During a recent mission to Ghana, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, together with Paule France Ndessomin, regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, met with the deputy minister of employment and labour relations, Bright Wireko-Brobbey, who is involved in the dispute as an observer. The minister says a commission will be set up to investigate working conditions under precarious work.

Collective bargaining should be concluded on time. It is unacceptable for the ministry of labour to unnecessarily delay the issuing of bargaining certificates as this infringed on workers’ rights to representation and freedom of association,

says Sanches.

The general secretary of the GMWU, Prince William Ankrah, expressed gratitude to IndustriALL for sending a letter to Gold Fields and for supporting the mineworkers.

At meetings with the chairperson of the Ghana IndustriALL liaison committee, Solomon Kotei, who is also the general secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, the general secretary of General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union, Fuseini Iddrisu, and the GMWU, Sanches emphasized workers’ rights.

Workers are free to join a union of their choice without interference from employers or the government. The abuse of precarious workers by employers in the oil and gas sector must stop, and it is shocking that offshore workers are not unionized.