Around 1,350 workers to be affected by Goldfields redundancy?

Nick Holland, CEO of Goldfields

The B&FT has gathered that, the number of workers to be disengaged by Goldfields Ghana Limited, to be employed by a contractor as Goldfields moves from owner mining, may reduce from the reported 1,500 to around 1,350.

This was contained in a letter sighted by the B&FT, dated March 09, 2018 and signed by the company’s group Chief Executive Officer, Nick Holland and addressed to the General Secretary of the Industrial Global Union (IGU), Valter Sanches based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Halland in a response to a letter dated March 8, 2018 from the IGU which was headlined “IndustriALL Global Union calls on Gold Fields to intervene at Gold Fields Ghana to end violation of workers’ rights,” said that, the number of workers to be affected by the move to contractor mining is not 2,150 but around 1,350 employees at the mining and equipment maintenance departments at Goldfields 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 letter added.

The Chief Executive of Goldfields was of the view that, the process leading to the signing of the severance package letters was carried out peacefully and that the package was accepted by majority of the employees who have signed the letters.

News of the number of workers to be laid off now around 1,350 workers, calls into question the exact number of workers Goldfields wishes to lay-off from its Tarkwa Mine.

This is because, the B&FT can confirm that, the same Nick Holland on February 14, 2018 in a report titled ‘Media Release: 2017 Unaudited Results (Year Ended 31 December 2017)”, with a sub heading ‘West Africa,’ opined that, “as part of the process and in terms of the Ghanaian labour law a retrenchment process will be initiated, as the contractor has agreed to re-employ a large number of the 1,700 affected employees”.

Also, the company in a law suit number IL/142/2017, Ghana MineWorkers Union Vs Goldfields Ltd and The Attorney General in the last but one paragraph of a letter from its lawyers Reindorf Chambers, dated December 13, 2017 addressed to the lawyers of the GMWU stated that,” the total number of employees that could be affected is about 2,150.”

This then begs the question, what exactly the numbers are when it comes to the total number of workers that have to go home in the redundancy exercise being undertaken by Goldfields.

Even though majority of the workers are said to have signed the severance letter, its remains unclear if the current 1,350 released by Mr. Holland will be the final or the number could go up or even reduce, since the number of staff to be laid off, it’s a prerogative of the employer and numbers as quoted are projections.

This news also comes after the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, on Monday together with the Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations met with the Ghana MineWorkers Union (GMWU) over protest at the Tarkwa Mine which turned bloody, living 6 members of the union arrested by the Police and others injured.

After the meeting, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the union asking them to submit all of its documents in relation to their stands on the pending redundancy by Goldfields.

Since then, peace and calm is to have been restored at the Tarkwa Mine as the union and  government today meets with all other parties involved in the feud to find a lasting solution.

IGU request letter

On his part, the IndistriALL’s letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Goldfields its condemned in the strongest terms 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 an utterly unfair redundancy exercise, which is in clear violation of national labour law and international core labour standards, and equally important, it is also in contravention of the current collective agreement.

The Global Union also stated that, “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 is in accurate.”

On security men who are made of Military and Police being stationed at the mine he said, he response was that, 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 of the severance letters.