The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed worry over the increasing spate of insecurity in the mining sector.
It said due to the ‘Operation Halt’ programme meant to eliminate illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, the displaced illegal miners were now invading legally acquired mining concessions.
The union said the situation was leading to serious clashes between the illegal miners and the affected companies.
In a release issued after the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in New Abirem in the Eastern Region, the General Secretary of the GMWU, Abdul-Moomin Gbana, chronicled some bitter experiences of their members who worked as security personnel, at the hands of “criminal elements”.
The statement recalled a recent incident in which two of the union’s members were attacked and shot which led to one losing an eye while the other sustained multiple injuries.
Similarly, it said, two other members were attacked with guns and machetes, leading to one sustaining multiple fractures on one leg while the other sustained several machete wounds on the head.
“A few days ago, we also witnessed yet another horrendous incident where two of our comrades were picked up at gunpoint, manhandled, molested and abandoned somewhere in the bush, with their hands tied to their backs.
“These sad developments have become a growing feature of the mining industry. It is, therefore, urgently imperative that companies and employers in the sector review their security operations and invest in modern security infrastructure that responds to the increasing sophistication of these criminal elements in order to curb this menace and protect life and property,” the statement said.
The union also called on the government to take immediate steps to provide complementary security to the mining companies.
“We would, therefore, not countenance these preventable incidences anymore, and would not hesitate to withdraw our services en bloc if these developments persist in the sector,” the statement added.
The union expressed further concern about the gradual decline in the decent work gains achieved over the years in pursuit of super normal profit strategies or measures.
It said a study conducted by the union recently revealed that for every increase in non-standard forms of employment, there was a corresponding decrease in standard employment or permanent employment in the sector.
It revealed that for every standard worker who exited the company from 2016, the same role was replaced with a non-standard worker.
“Sadly, workers in these non-standard forms of employment are required to perform the same task and, in some cases, additional task, but are put on relatively inferior employment conditions, including reduced wages, salaries and reduced pensions.
“Without a doubt, this trend is fast undermining the decent work agenda and slipping our members into working poverty and ought to be checked without any further delay,” it said.
The union emphasised that respect for fundamental principles and rights at work remained key pillars, but continued to come under serious attack by multinational conglomerates.
“Some of the companies have erected Chinese walls around themselves to purposefully deny workers the free expression of their rights.
“Paradoxically, these same multinational conglomerates have signed onto one international convention or protocol, pledging to respect and promote workers’ rights,” it said.