Erica Apeatua Addo, GNA
Tarkwa (W/R), March 8, GNA - The Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) is preparing to stage an industrial action to register their displeasure against the proposed termination of more than 2,150 permanent employees of Goldfields Ghana Limited (GGL) Tarkwa mines.
The strike action is aimed at drawing government and its regulatory institutions attention to call GGL to order.
The members of the National Executive Council of the GMWU at an emergency meeting in Tarkwa voted overwhelmingly to take the industry-wide strike in solidarity with their colleague workers in GGL Tarkwa.
Speaking at the ceremony, the General Secretary of the Union, Mr Prince William Ankrah announced that if the Union does not receive any positive news from the government, beginning Tuesday March 13, 2018, all workers in the mining industry would hoist and wear red bands.
He said the mining workers would continue with a sympathy strike action on March 20, 2018.
Mr Ankrah pointed out that a full blown general industry-wide strike action would be followed on March 27 to protect the interest of its members.
The general secretary emphasised that "The needless maltreatment and psychological trauma inflicted on our colleagues at Gold Fields is extremely injustice, which if left unattended will sooner than later become a threat to justice everywhere for workers in the mining industry and by extension workers in general particularly those in the private sector in Ghana".
Last year GGL decided to undertake a redundancy exercise that was likely to affect over 2,300 workers at the company's Tarkwa mines.
According to the company, this was to allow it to restructure it's operations by moving from owner-mining to contractor-mining.
The leadership of the GMWU came in and sought legal redress at the Labour Division of the Accra High court.
On March 2, 2018, Mr Ankrah said the court disappointingly refused an application for injunction filed by the Union to restrain Gold Fields from carrying out the intended redundancy exercise.
He said immediately after the ruling, the union filed an application for stay of execution and also a motion for appeal at the Appeals Court on grounds that the reasons the court relied on to refuse the injunction application were not sufficient.
He said these were immediately served on the company and its lawyers on that same day.
Mr Ankrah explained that a day before the ruling the company sent military personnel to the mine and went ahead without recourse to the application for stay of execution, coerced workers to sign redundancy letters in the presence of armed military personnel.
Simultaneously, those who signed the redundancy letters were also compelled to sign a month fixed term contract whose terms and conditions, unionised workers were blatantly denied access to.
The General Secretary further explained that as if that was not enough, enterprise union officials who attempted to apprise unionised workers of the development in respect to the court ruling and matters arising were either arrested or locked out.
He said following the huge military presence, an atmosphere of insecurity, fear and panic had since engulfed the workers with most of them not too sure of what to expect next.
Apart from the Labour Act 2003 (Act651), Mr Ankrah said there were two existing collective agreements between the union and the company with elaborate provisions on how to decently handle matters of this nature.
"But typical of their ruthless character as multinationals and their penchant for disregarding host country framework and sanctity of contracts, the company has unilaterally set aside the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) and the collective agreement and have gone ahead to force redundancy termination on the workers" He added.
According to Mr Ankrah, since January 22, 2018, the union submitted proposals covering 2018 salary adjustment and collective agreement review and invited the company to enter into negotiations with it.
He said GGL refused to even acknowledge the receipt and also not respected directives from the National Labour Commission.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, commended the leadership of GMWU and charged the National Executive Council members who represented their branches at the meeting to go back and explain to their people why the action was important.
He assured the union of TUC's support, adding that, he would inform the National Tripartite Committee, which the Minister of Employment and Labour Relation was the chairman as to why the strike action would take place.
"My prayer is that the government under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will not sit down for one person to destroy the peace we have in the mining industry, l do not expect that government will keep quiet" He stressed.