Ahafo mine workers demand equal pay as expats

BY: Biiya Mukusah Ali
Some of the demonstrators
Some of the demonstrators

A Police officer and two other persons sustained injuries when demonstrators clashed with the police during a demonstration against the subcontractors of the Newmont Ahafo Mine Company Limited at Kenyasi No.1 in the Asutifi North District in the Brong Ahafo Region.

While Kwaku Duah of Kenyasi No.1 was treated and discharged at the Gyedu Health Centre, his colleague, Richard Amfoh, had to be referred to the Regional Hospital in Sunyani where he is receiving further treatment due to the severity of his injuries.

The identity of the police officer, who was said to be injured in the eye, is yet to be known.

A pressure group, the United Mining Affected Communities (UMAC), led the residents and some workers of the mine to demonstrate against the poor conditions of service for the locals employed by the subcontractors of the Newmont Ahafo Gold Mines.

The demonstrations started last Monday and ended last Thursday.


According to the police, Amfoh got injured last Monday, Duah was injured last Tuesday, with the police officer picking up the injury last Thursday.

Demands

The demonstrators alleged that their conditions of service were different from those of the non-locals who had been employed by the same subcontractors to do the same work, explaining that the action of the subcontractors was making employment unattractive to people who hailed from the mining area.

The President of the Kenyasi Youth Association, Mr Kennedy Adu Adjei, told the Daily Graphic that the local employees were given inadequate rent and risk allowances among others, in spite of the risky nature of their work.

Demonstration

Several meetings organised by the District Security Committee (DISEC) to resolve the impasse were inconclusive as the employees were not satisfied with recommendations of the committee.

They decided to hit the principal streets of Kenyasi No.1 and No.2, through to the Newmont Ahafo Plant Site, to get their grievances addressed.

The workers laid down their tools to demonstrate against their employers to compel them to do what they described as “the right thing”.

The police said the demonstrators also blocked roads linking to the Newmont Ahafo Plant Site to prevent the company’s workers and vehicles from entering the site for operation.

Commercial drivers and commuters also suffered from the action of the demonstrators as the main road linking Ntotroso to Sunyani was blocked for searches to be conducted on vehicles crossing their barriers to fish out the staff of Newmont.

Police briefing

The Brong Ahafo Regional Crime Officer, Superintendent Nana Kwaku Duah, told the Daily Graphic that when the demonstration started, the demonstrators attacked and damaged police vehicles.

According to him, the demonstrators also seized food meant for the police personnel who were at the Newmont site protecting lives and property.

Nana Duah said the action of the protestors compelled the police to use tear gas and pepper spray to prevent them from causing harm to the personnel.

No arrest has been made; but calm has been restored in Kenyasi and its surrounding communities.

Nana Duah indicated that the command had deployed more personnel to maintain law and order, adding that the DISEC was also meeting with the leadership of the subcontractors, managers of the Newmont Ahafo Mine and the local employees to find a lasting solution to the matter.