The aggrieved workers of Goldfields Ghana Limited who staged a demonstration on Monday, March 12, 2018 to protest against the eminent layoffs in the wake of the introduction of the contract mining regime by the company have some glimpse of hope following a major intervention by the government.
Barely a day after the demonstration in which seven people sustained various degrees of injury, the government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the workers to ensure that those who will be affected in the redundancy exercise are re-engaged in the new mining regime.
Announcing the intervention in an interview on Citi Fm’s “Breakfast Show” on Tuesday, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu, said efforts were being made to address the impasse between the workers and the management of the multinational company.
According to him, an emergency meeting was convened, together with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, in Accra last Monday, at which the MoU was signed.
“We have resolved and signed a memorandum of understanding between the ministry and the Mine Workers Union, so that is what we are doing to ensure that we bring this issue to a halt,” he said.
Mr Amewu assured the workers that measures would be put in place to ensure that they were not laid off in the new mining regime.
He observed that the contract mining regime that was being rolled out would not make the workers suffer unduly, stressing that it was rather in the interest of the company and the country.
“The union is not against contract mining, just like the government itself. The rationale basically for contract mining across the world is the idea of local content involvement. We are coming out with a local content agenda which is saying that of course, you need to get Ghanaian companies to also do the mining; so this is in the interest of the country,” he explained.
Mr Amewu further urged the agitated workers not to take the law into their hands as all steps would be taken to make them key beneficiaries of the new mining regime.
“The principles of the layoffs are such that whoever comes in as the staff contractor is going to re-engage those workers and they are going be paid 25 per cent of their annual salary for every year that they work; and the workers themselves are happy,” he said.
About 2000 workers in the Tarkwa Mines of Goldfields Ghana Limited who will suffer the staff redundancy programme that was announced in December 2017 have been on the heels of the management of the company, accusing it of acting in bad faith.
Acting in solidarity with the affected workers, the Mine Workers Union took the grievances to the court for redress but the ruling favoured the management of the company.
In its attempt to enforce the court ruling, the management began serving the affected workers letters of retrenchment and paying redundancy packages to them.
In defiance of the new contract mining regime, the workers last Monday embarked on a peaceful demonstration at the premises of the company; but the otherwise orderly protest turned bloody, leading to the arrest of some seven workers.
The Mine Workers Union made a desperate call to the government to intervene to save the several workers from what they described as unfair and unmeasured treatment from the management of the company.