Mine workers want alternative livelihoods for illegal miners
Government has been commended for clamping down on illegal mining in the country but in order to make it sustainable, there need for the provision of an alternative livelihood for communities affected has been proposed by the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU).
This is in view of the fact that the current ban on illegal mining activities will place untold hardships on the illegal miners with potential social consequences for the communities affected, and the nation at large.
General Secretary of GMWU, Prince William Ankrah made these remarks when he addressed the Executive Council of the Union at their mid-year executive council meeting held in New Abriem in the Eastern region on September 1.
The union, he said, proposes the possible integration or harmonization of key policies such as the Mineral Develop fund, government’s one-district, one factory, and the corporate social responsibility initiatives on multinational mining companies into a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement in a manner that drives the development agenda of the host communities.
The Union took the opportunity to commend government for reviving the Abboso glass factory and the Bonsa Tyre factory under the one-district, one factory programme. The GMWU eagerly awaits the establishment of a gold refinery at Tarkwa as promised by the President, Ankrah added.
The Union lamented excessive taxation by government as the earnings of the average Ghanaian is low. The situation, it notes, is aggravated by the many hidden indirect taxes that workers have to contend with. The union therefore called on government to have a second look at the current income tax regime and do a critical review to lessen the tax burden on workers.
“Another critical observation made in the period under review is the increasing trend of non-standard forms of employment (fixed term contract employment, casualisation and agency labour) which crept into the industry a few years back, but in recent times have gained momentum and is growing exponentially across the industry.
Today, virtually all companies have a good number of their employees engaged on fixed term basis with some almost achieving parity between permanent and fixed term employment, a logic which is at variance with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651)”.
The last but not least issue worth the attention of NEC in session is the current infrastructure deficit which has become a common feature of all mining communities in the country, he stated.
“With a contribution to direct domestic revenue of GH¢1.6 billion in 2016 representing a growth rate of 23 per cent relative to 2015, the mining sector remains the nation’s leading contributor to the nation's fiscal purse according to the Ghana Chamber of Mines. The paradox however is why mining communities remain shantytowns in the midst of all these mineral resources”.
It is also important to stress that the consequence of the current poor infrastructure situation, particularly in the road and rail sectors, is the rising cost of transaction for many of these businesses.
“For instance, the current major operational challenge for companies like Ghana Bauxite Company and Ghana Manganese Company is the rising haulage cost of transporting ore from the operational sites to the port. With this rising cost, all stakeholders particularly workers are deprived of gains that could otherwise have accrued to them if there were cheaper and more reliable means of transport like rail. We therefore commend the Government for the demonstration of political will in setting up a ministry strictly in-charge of railway development and wish to urge the Government through the ministry to take practical steps towards revamping the railway sector, considering the downstream benefits it presents to other sectors of the economy including the mining”