The security situation in mining communities, and mining companies in particular, continues to be a major worry for the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union as the race for the sanitisation of illegal mining under the ‘Government Operation Halt Programme’ rages.
The programme has forced many of these displaced illegal miners into invading legally acquired mining concessions which often times, results in serious clashes with union members, thus, putting them in harm’s way.
Recently, two union members in Protea Coin – Robert Coffie and Joshua Oppong – were attacked and shot, which led to Joshua losing one eye, while Robert sustained multiple injuries on the Newmont Ahafo site.
Similarly, on the same Newmont Ahafo site, Daniel Owusu Sekyere and Mathew Nsoah – both members of the union, were attacked with guns and cutlasses, which led to Daniel sustaining multiple fractures on one leg, while Mathew sustained several cutlass wounds on the head.
Sadly, Daniel now has metals planted in his leg. Indeed, the list goes on and on…, General Secretary, GMWU, Abdul-Moomin Gbana, told delegates at the union’s first-half National Executive Council Meeting for the year 2022 in New Abriem last week.
“On July 27, 2022, we witnessed yet another horrendous incident on the concession of Newmont Ahafo Mine, where two of our comrades from Protea Coin were picked up at gunpoint, manhandled, molested, and abandoned somewhere in the bush with their hands tied to their backs.”
Fortunately, they were found alive without any major injuries.
Similarly, Anglogold Ashanti Obuasi and other mining companies continue to come under constant attacks by criminal elements, with our members not spared in most of these attacks.
The union, therefore, urges government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to take immediate steps to provide complementary security to these mining companies, particularly Newmont Ahafo, considering the rampant incidence of attacks on the Ahafo concession.
Another issue of grave concern to miners is the gradual decline in the decent work gains achieved over the years, in pursuit of super normal profit strategies, or measures that continue to undermine efforts.
Additionally, respect for workers’ rights, especially the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, continues to come under serious attack by multinational conglomerates such as Gold Fields Ghana Limited who, for the past five years, have erected a Chinese wall around itself, purposefully to deny workers the free expression of their rights, Gbana told delegates.
These notwithstanding, GMWU is calling for a review of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651), which it describes as critically imperative to fix the implementation gaps identified over the years, and make it responsive to the changing needs of the actors in the industrial relations space.
After over 100 years of mining, Ghana’s mining industry continues to be dominated and controlled by foreign interest, with over 99 percent of mining companies being foreign, owning 90 percent of the shares, with government left with a paltry 10 percent carrying interest.
“Sadly, we have for many years chosen the laziest man approach of over relying on a ‘tax-royalty’ fiscal regime, where our only source of revenue depends on revenue generated from mining companies/activities in the country through taxes, and royalties levied on revenue generated from production”, the GMWU General Secretary lamented.
To change, however, would require a change in the ownership structure of mineral assets, thereby shifting from our aged-long comfort zone of over dependence and reliance on a tax-royalty regime, to active participation and control of production by negotiating/renegotiating a much greater stake in these mining companies, in order to create and retain the needed value for the people of Ghana, he added.
The union, however, commends government’s plan to introduce what it terms the ‘Minerals Income Investment Fund Small-Scale Mining Incubation Programme’, with an allocated budget of GH₵354million to help transform wholly-owned Ghanaian Small-Scale Mining companies into mid-tier to large-scale companies over a period of 24 months, beginning 1st February, 2022, with up to 30 percent of the allocation earmarked for provision of equity capital to selected small-scale mining companies.
The opening remarks were made by Mensah Kwarko Gyakari, National Chairman of the GMWU, who observed a trend where, because a mine is in Akyem, and for that matter, only Akyems should work in those mines!
“If we don’t stop such behaviours, a time will come when the Ga people will also tell University of Ghana that this is their land, and therefore they will not allow outsiders to lecture at the University, only Ga people should lecture”.