Goldfields Ghana Limited has said its decision to change from owner mining to contract mining at its Tarkwa mine does not mean an automatic dismissal of the over 2000 workers who are in court to seek relief.
The company’s Vice President and Head of HR for West Africa, Francis Eduku, told the B&FT that a greater number of the workers could be engaged by the contractor taking over operations of the mine.
“We have done a similar exercise with the Damang Mine, where over eighty percent of the retrenched workers were actually absorbed by the contractor. So, it’s not the case that you leave your employees and that is the end of the story. We actually engaged the contractors to ensure that as many people as possible are re-engaged,” he said.
More than 2000 workers of Goldfields Ghana Limited have, through the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU), initiated court action against the mining company in respect of the security of their jobs, following its decision to sublet the operations of the Tarkwa mine to a contractor.
According to the number four best company in the country on the Club 100 list, it notified the GMWU initially of some planned laid off in March 2017 and begun consultations in that regard.
“When it comes to notification, we notified the union when we initially thought we were just going to cut down the staff numbers but with the change in plan, I personally sent them another notification and we have been consulting till date. I do not understand what all this noise is about,” Francis Eduku said.
The GMWU has sued Goldfields Ghana Limited as first defendant and the Attorney General as second defendant at the Labour Division of the Accra High Court over the matter.
The writ containing the statement of claim from the GMWU, which has been served on Goldfields Ghana Limited, the mine workers are praying the court to make “A declaration that the reasons given by the 1st Defendant Company in its notice dated 23 / 10 / 17 viz the aging of its fleet and the short mine life of the Tarkwa Mine do not give rise to a redundancy as same do not meet the requirements, conditions, ingredients or grounds for redundancy as provided by Section 65 of the Labour Act 2013 Act 651 and hence the intended redundancy is unlawful.”
The GMWU is also praying the court to declare that the decision by the 1st Defendant Company per its letters to the Plaintiff’s members to the effect that the 1st Defendant will serve termination letters to the Plaintiff’s members starting from 13th December, 2017 falls short of the mandatory three months’ notice period, and contravenes both Section 65 of Act 651 and article 10.08 of the Collective Agreement between the parties and hence illegal, unlawfull and null and void.
Goldfields Ghana, at a press conference, confirmed that it will be asking some of its employees to go home in a retrenchment exercise expected to affect the majority of its miners at the Tarkwa mine.
Alfred Baku, who confirmed the retrenchment exercise, explained that the company has decided to change its business model to contract mining in view of the aging fleet of its machinery and the short mines span of the Tarkwa Mine.
“As of now, our mining fleet is old and we need to replace it. Now, looking at the types of mines that we have, which have five to six years of active mining, we cannot pump huge money into fleet replacement, which we will not actually be able to recoup because we are talking about a huge capital investment here,” Alfred Baku said.
“So, now we have to look at our options. We have seen that a contract miner who has fleet already, and that is new and can be more efficient, is the best option. I can tell you that we then can free the bottom line. So that has actually influenced the decision,” he added.