Court throws out mine workers injunction application against Goldfields
The Accra High Court has dismissed an interlocutory application by the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) which sought to stop a redundancy exercise by mining giant, Goldfields Ghana Ghana.
The redundancy exercise Is likely to affect majority of the mining giant company’s 2,300 workers at its Tarkwa mine site.
The labour union wanted the court to stop Goldfields from going ahead with the exercise until the determination of a suit it filed challenging it.
But in a ruling Friday morning, the Labour Division of the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Laurenda Owusu, held that the mining company stand to suffer greater hardship if the application was granted.
According to the court, the workers were not in the position to compensate Goldfields if the application was granted and they lost the substantive case.
However, the court said Goldfields had the resources to compensate the workers if the application is refused and the workers won the substantive case.
The workers led by GMWU sued the company over its plans to sack them due to the short lifespan of its Tarkwa mine.
Per the lawsuit initiated on their behalf by the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) at the Labour Division of the Accra High Court, Goldfields had informed the workers that they would be served with termination letters by yesterday, December 12, 2017.
The notice to serve them with termination letters, the workers said, followed a notice of redundancy issued to them by the company on October 23, 2017, in which it said it was carrying out the exercise due to “the aging fleet of its machinery and the short mine span of the Tarkwa Mine’’.
But the workers are of the view that the reasons given by Goldfields to lay them off do not meet the requirements for redundancy, as stipulated in the Labour Act, 2013 (Act 651).
They also contended that the company unilaterally declared a redundancy exercise when GMWU was still negotiating with it over the form of the redundancy and the category of workers to be affected.
Such action, which they said was taken by Goldfields after the Chief Labour Officer had given the company the green light on December 6, 2017 to go ahead with the redundancy exercise, flouted the express provisions of Act 651 and their collective bargaining agreements.
“By reason of Section 65 of Act 651 and Article 10 of the Collective Agreement, Goldfields cannot unilaterally and without any agreement by the parties declare the plaintiff members (workers) redundant,’’ the workers said in their statement of claim.
As a result of the supposed action of the Chief Labour Office, the workers have named the Attorney-General (A-G) as the second defendant in the suit.
What the workers want
Per the writ filed on behalf of the workers by their lawyer, Mr Charles Bawaduah, a former Executive Secretary of the National Labour Commission (NLC), the workers are praying the court to restrain Goldfields from going ahead with the intended redundancy exercise until all the stakeholders involved “have concluded or negotiated on whether the exercise can be averted, and if not, the category of workers to be affected and measures to minimise the impact on workers’’.
They are also seeking a declaration from the court that the redundancy exercise is “unlawful” because the reasons given by the mining giant to lay them off do not meet the “requirements, conditions or grounds for redundancy, as provided by Section 65 of the Labour Act, 2013, Act 651’’.
The workers further want the court to declare that the purported authorisation of the redundancy exercise by the Chief Labour Officer is “illegal, unlawful and null and void’’.