The management of Ghana Bauxite Company at Awaso in the Western North Region of Ghana has denied assertions making rounds in the media that workers of the company are woefully underpaid.
It was reported that the mining company paid most of its workers about GH¢350 – an amount the workers have persistently complained about.
However, in an interview with the B&FT, Vice General Manager of the company, Liu Xin, explained that only 15 out of the 600 workers of the company earn the said amount – adding those workers are unskilled labourers carrying out basic works for the company.
A payroll document sighted by this paper corroborates Mr. Xin’s explanation, as some workers earn more than GH¢3,000 and others about GH¢500 or more.
For example, a transport officer earns GH¢3,264, while an office clerk earns GH¢534. Others also on the payroll earn between GH¢400 and GH¢1,300.
Again, there are allegations making the rounds in the media – which Mr. Xin further refuted – that the workers anger was sparked by reports the General Manager of the company had disregarded a new payment structure agreed between the company and the worker’s union.
He told the B&FT that there is no such agreement whatsoever, as negotiations are still on-going between the recruitment agencies of the company (Capital Group, Darnest, Krim Facility), which are the actual employers of the workers, and the worker’s union. Furthermore, he said, the Ghana Bauxite Company did not take part in the negotiations since the workers are not directly employed by it, hence, those allegations are baseless.
Long-term security needed
The damage to properties after the workers’ riots was described by the Awaso Divisional Police Commander, Chief Supt Osei Bonsu as “colossal”; and he added that “they blocked the entrance to the mines and facilities with a haulage truck and took the keys away, and the drivers were nowhere to be found”.
According to Mr. Xin, full operations have not been resumed ever since the incidence happened some two weeks ago, as many workers live and work in fear – not knowing what is coming next. It is against this background that he is calling on government to provide maximum security for the company so that workers can work in peace.
“We urge the law enforcement department to bring all the violating suspects to book. And we are also encouraging government to implement some kind of long-term security solution permanently at our work-site to prevent this development from happening again,” he said.
The Ghana Bauxite Company has plans to set up a refinery bauxite refinery plant in the country in the nearest future, with a proposal submitted to government and discussions on-going. However, Mr. Xin said the incident is making them have second thoughts following other recent security concerns.