The Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has decried what it has termed as the unbridled outsourcing of all manner of projects by mining companies in the country.
It said the development was worrying, coupled with the challenge of non-standard forms of employment (fixed-term contract employment) which it said continued to gain currency in the industry with its attendant consequences on workers and communities.
A statement issued by the union in Accra said its General Secretary, Mr Prince William Ankrah, made the above statement during the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union in Obuasi.
Mr Ankrah noted that given the cheap nature of outsourced projects — particularly those handed to Ghanaians under screwed contract deals all in the name of local content — mining companies were giving all manner of excuses to profiteer through outsourcing and fixed-term contract employment to the detriment of workers, communities and government.
He said a chunk of mining and its related activities were done by contractors who, because of the nature of their contracts, could only engage workers on fixed term contract basis.
“These contractors, most of whom have been given contracts, make it difficult if not impossible to give any better employment conditions to the fixed-term employees whose plight continues to worsen because the mining companies, apart from the suffocating contracts they have given to the contractors, also fail to honour payments for works done, and this is heightening tension among contractors, workers and the communities,” he said.
He cited the recent unrest at the Ghana Bauxite Company at Awaso which saw the destruction of company property, and Newmont Goldcorp Ghana local contractor workers demonstration at Ahafo as some of the consequences associated with fixed-term contract workers.
The union cautioned government to tread cautiously as it worked to ensure compliance by mining companies in honouring their tax obligations, and cited the suspension of the operations of the Ghana Manganese Company Limited (GMCL) by the sector minister on an alleged failure by the company to honour its tax obligations to the government.
“The union will not countenance the action of the company if, indeed, it is proven that it reneged on its tax obligations.
But government should tread cautiously given the dire ramifications of this decision on the company, workers, community and other stakeholders.
“Can government absolve itself if, indeed, something untoward has occurred? We want the sector minister to tell us where government’s own regulatory institutions — Minerals Commission, Ghana Revenue Authority, Auditor General, etc. — were when the so-called illegalities were being committed?” Mr Ankrah stated.
Mr Ankrah, however, said all had not been gloomy and enumerated some developments in the industry that had made and had the potential to make positive impact.
He said the Wage Adjustment Framework/Model, a strategic and innovative intervention between the union and Newmont Goldcorp Ghana and AngloGold Ashanti (Iduapriem) Limited (AGA), was significantly impacting salary negotiations and scientifically linking productivity and performance.
“The hitherto laborious open-market approach to salary/wage negotiations has been reduced from an average of 1 to 6 months to about three days to two weeks of negotiations, giving the union and management space to concentrate and innovate around productivity and performance,” he said.