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Mineworkers union condemns outsourcing to outsiders

The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed its resentment about the decision of some mining companies to outsource jobs meant for its members to outside contractors.

Describing it as an “ugly” practice, the union said apart from Gold Fields Ghana Limited that employes a sizable number of their members as security personnel, the rest have all outsourced that department.

The National Chairman of the Union, Mr Mensah Kwarko Gyakari, told the media after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Accra that: “As we speak now, most of the companies we are working with have started outsourcing their departments. It is not like the job is not there, these jobs are there but because they want to maximise profit what they do is to outsource the department to outside contractors and strategically pay them peanuts,” he explained.

He said that the union had also picked information suggesting that Goldfields had started operations at the Damang Mines and it is moving to Tarkwa with plans of outsourcing its drilling operations.

“We have heard that Goldfields has started at Damang and it is also moving to Goldfields Tarkwa and they want to outsource the drilling session which are codified union duties. What then are they telling us? They are just informing us that they have to find a better way of reducing the size of our cherished union,” he said.

The Union, he explained, would therefore strategically position itself to fight for its members, and also urged the union members to inform the leadership of such practices at their various places of work.

“What we will tell them is that, we will do cost benefit analysis to find out if the outsourcing is feasible. Even if it is going to reduce cost, at what margin and at what rate is that cost going to be reduced?” he quizzed.

Goldfields responds

The Director of External Affairs, West Africa of Gold Fields, Mr David Johnson, in an email to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS said the company was constantly reviewing its operations and cost options, especially during this era of low gold price and increasing cost of production with respect to power and chemicals used for production.

“This cost and operational review is critical to keep the company economically viable, and to be able to return value to our stakeholders, including employees, communities, government, and investors. Following from such reviews, a decision was made to outsource our drilling at Damang, as a cost management measure,” he explained.

This decision, he said, was duly communicated to the Ghana Mineworkers Union, adding that Gold Fields has been working closely with the Union with regards to all severance entitlements to employees affected by the decision.

“This, however, refers to Damang alone. As of now, no such decision has been made with regards to Tarkwa,” he said.

Redundancy weakening union

The mining sector has been faced with a lot of job cuts this year, something that has led to unrest in the sector and is gradually weakening the association.

The Union has lost all their members through lay-offs at AngloGold Ashanti, Atlas Copco, African Underground Mining Services Limited (AUMS), while other companies are also meeting with the union on possible job cuts next year.

“We met with management of Perseus Mining Limited and they have a list of employees they think cannot fit into their operations,” he said. Mr Gyakari explained that these challenges had adversely impacted on the union as it is the members that make the union strong, adding that “if we continue to lose members in such proportions then it means we are being weakened. It also has a financial impact because subscriptions come from members.”

Plight of workers

The General Secretary of the union, Mr Prince William Ankrah, speaking at the opening session of the meeting said the union would venture into real estate and rental operations to position the union securely against any un-envisaged shocks in their industry.

He complained about the disparities in the salary structure between the Ghanaian employees and the expatriate staff.

“There are instances where mining expatriate bosses in charge of some big mining businesses in Ghana receive salaries ranging from US$450, 000 to US$1million a year against a minimum salary of US$550 to 600 for a Ghanaian mineworker,” he said.

“It is therefore appropriate that we begin a process of constructive engagement in this regard. The prevailing situation where the pay and benefit system in our industry seem to favour a few white and selected top level Ghanaians in management roles cannot continue.”

Credit: Graphiconline

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