Goldfields Ghana Limited has said it will disengage the services of around 1,350 workers, and not 2,150 – with the contractor under its new contract mining arrangement expected to absorb about 80 – 85 percent of them.
The company said this in a letter dated March 9, 2018, signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Nick Holland, which was addressed to the General Secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union (IGU), Valter Sanches based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The company was responding to a letter dated March 8, 2018 from the IGU, which was headlined “Industrial Global Union calls on Goldfields to intervene at Goldfields Ghana to end violation of workers’ rights”.
The affected employees are at the company’s mining and equipment maintenance department in Tarkwa.
“As per an agreement between GFGL and the contractor, about 80 – 85% of these employees will be re-engaged by the contractors, under fair and equitable remuneration terms.
“As part of the severance package from GFGL, these employees will also benefit from three months gross salary for every year that they worked,” the company stated in the letter.
The company said the process leading to signing the severance package letters was carried out peacefully, and that the package was accepted by a majority of the employees who have signed the letters.
The figures, in respect of affected employees, are becoming conflicted – in that on February 14, 2018, Nick Holland in a media release announcing the company’s 2017 unaudited results, with a sub-heading ‘West Africa’, which said: “As part of the process and in terms of the Ghanaian labour law, a retrenchment process will be initiated – though the contractor has agreed to re-employ a large number of the 1,700 affected employees”.
Also, the company’s lawyers in the recent court case brought against it by the Ghana Mine Workers Union stated that: “The total number of employees that could be affected is about 2,150”.
On Monday, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, together with the Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations met with the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) over a protest at the Tarkwa Mine which turned bloody, with the police arresting 6 members of the union.
After the meeting, government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the union asking it to submit all of its documents in relation to its stance on the pending redundancy by Goldfields.
Peace and calm, according to the GMWU, have been restored at Tarkwa Mine until the government, today, meets all parties involved to find a lasting solution to the stand-off.
IGU condemns Goldfields’ methods
The IndustriALL Global Union condemned what it termed the unfair decision by Gold Fields Ghana Limited to terminate the permanent contracts of thousands of workers – describing the method being used by Goldfields as in clear violation of national labour law and international core labour standards.
It added that the company’s intentions are equally in contravention of the current collective agreement.
The Global Union stated: “We are also outraged to learn that workers are being coerced to sign redundancy letters, in the presence of military personnel; and also compelled to sign a one-month fixed-term contract, whose terms and conditions the GMWU is denied access to”.
With reference to the presence of the army at the Tarkwa Goldfields Mine, the General Secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union said the union finds it unacceptable, as that has exacerbated the threatening and harassing atmosphere created by the company.
But in his response, Nick Holland said: “Can I respond by stating that most of the facts you listed in your letter are inaccurate?”
On security men who are made up of Military and Police being stationed at the mine, he said it was done to protect employees from outsiders – and a small minority of staff who were opposed to the contract model and had attempted to disrupt the process of signing the severance letters.