Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) has called on government for a stakeholder forum on the Contract Mining Policy to chart a roadmap for the sector.
The union expressed concerns over government’s attempt to support the Contract Mining module which jeopardised the future of Ghanaian mine workers, stressing that government should have involved all stakeholders to weigh all the options.
This was in a statement signed by the General Secretary of the Union, Prince William Ankrah, at a get-together and raffle draw for members in Kumasi to mark May Day.
Members of the union won close to 200 items for the raffle draw which included; digital flat screen television sets, refrigerators, gas-cookers, automatic rice-cookers, electric pressure cookers, microwave ovens, electric kettles, among others.
Mr Ankrah said the union’s fear was that mining companies want to short-change Ghanaian mine workers to undermine its effort over the years to improve the remuneration package for Ghanaian mineworkers.
He said indexation of the cedi to the dollar used for the payment of remuneration for mine workers, was a brainchild of the union after tough and fruitful engagements with stakeholders and expected same from the management of mining companies.
“We will be tough on companies that want to toy with the plight of mine workers. We are not here to bust any company neither are we going to sit down and allow any company to toy with the future of mine workers through exploitative tendencies for their corporate greed.
“As leaders and members of union, we are not against any company, all we saying is that treat the mine worker fairly, who work hard to make sure we generate the wealth,” he said.
He added that “as union leaders and members we are ready to work with all stakeholders to ensure very serene labour relations. But anything that seeks to exploit the mineworker and the family, the union cannot be part of it.“
Mr Ankrah said the union had at various fora raised concerns about the precarious work environment being forced on the Ghanaian mineworker and it appeared government was not appreciating the dangers of contract mining and the effect it would have on the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) which was a major source of revenue generation for the country.
He cited an example that a permanent worker who earned about the cedi equivalent of 900 dollars a month was likely to receive half of that amount under contract mining when engaged on a fixed term, which would definitely have an impact on the PAYE and the pension of the employee.
According to him, even though the mining sector constituted less than one per cent of the job market in Ghana, mine workers accounted for 18 per cent of total PAYE in the country, because there was appreciable salary level in the mining sector.
“Why allow work modules that will make hard-working Ghanaians go on retirement and live in poverty and misery because of contract mining. Nobody is standing in the way of businesses to make profit, but that should not be at the expense of better conditions of service for employees.”
National Chairman of the Union, Mr Mensah Kwarko Gyarkari, described the current appetite for contract mining by some mining companies as an attack on labour and the improved conditions of service for Ghanaian mine workers.
Mr Gyarkari said due to the good package negotiated in the Collective Agreements, by the Ghana Mine Workers Union for members, some employers had decided to engage in work modules like contract mining that would undermine the Collective Agreements. He said the leadership would engage in constructive dialogue with all social partners to do the right thing to save the industry.