Mineworkers Resist Goldfields Layoffs - Peace FM
The Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) has rubbished reasons given by the management of mining firm, Goldfields Ghana Limited to lay off about 1,500 of its workers.
Executive Vice President of the firm, David Johnson, last month cited unreasonable wage demands by the union, aging fleet, life of mine and low gold prices as reasons for the retrenchment of some of the workers.
According to him, the firm was changing its operations from an owner binder to contract mining due to changes in the firm’s mining fleet.
But the GMWU described the reasons for the layoffs as “most unfortunate, mischievous and ethically disastrous.”
Deputy General Secretary of the Union, Abdul M. Gbana, at a press conference, stated that the Executive Vice President “lied” about the 60 percent wage adjustment by the Union.
“Indeed, salary increases were not just offered on a silver platter, but agreed through negotiations, unless he says he was arm-twisted into accepting those percentages.”
“Not only did the EVP lie about a 60 percent wage adjustment by the Union but he also termed adjustments as unreasonably high despite the macroeconomic indicators; inflation, as well as the internal driven factors; All-In-Sustaining-Cost (AISC) and Production, which were all considered by the Union in the pursuit of a wage adjustment.”
He bemoaned the growing income inequality at Goldfields Ghana, stating that the least paid employee of the firm must work for approximately eight years to accrue the monthly salary of the Executive Vice President.
“Indeed, the Executive Vice President’s pay equals the salary of about 85 workers of Gold fields with a total realized earnings for the year 2016 of US$1,837,000,” Mr Gbana revealed.
Touching on aging fleet which the firm cited as a reason for the layoffs, he stated that “it is evident that the current fleet is fairly new and can run for the current 14-year life backed by a dedicated maintenance plan and a strategic fleet replacement schedule over the life of mine, which indeed, has the potential to go beyond the current 14-year life.”
He also rejected the firm’s claim of drop in gold prices, stating that the average year to date gold price actual was US$1,251 against a plan of US$1,100 gold price, leaving a difference of about US$151.
“Month-on-month actual gold price has always exceeded the planned gold price from January to December thus to hold onto gold price as a reason for the pursuit of contract mining is most unfortunate.”
Mr Agbana also decried the lack of consistency on the number of employees to be affected by the layoffs, indicating that as many 2,150 workers of the mining firm could be asked to go home.
According to him, “The true intentions of this ruthless business decision that Gold Fields Ghana is forcing on all the stakeholders, particularly workers and the Tarkwa communities, are unfounded and therefore lacks merit.”
He therefore called on government not remain silent on the matter as its deafening silence is becoming “worrying.”
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