The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government and employers in the mining sector to put in place adequate measures to ensure the safety of citizens engaged in lawful economic activities.
Expressing worry over the state of insecurity in the various mining communities in recent times, which has resulted in attacks on some its members, leading to multiple injuries, it said the situation should be reversed without delay.
“Let’s emphasise that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that all its citizens are safe, whether at home or when engaged in any lawful economic activity. It is also the legal responsibility of the employer in the employment relationship to ensure that employees are safe at the workplace at all times.
“We would therefore not countenance these preventable incidents any more and would not hesitate to withdraw our services en bloc if this development persists in the sector,” the General Secretary (GS) of the GMWU, Mr Abdul-Moomin Gbana, said in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy GS, Mr Jerry Andoh, during the union’s national executive council (NEC) meeting held at Tarkwa in the Western Region, from August 19-20, 2021.
It described as unfrustrated similar attacks on some concessions such as Newmont Ahafo site, Asanko Mines, Persues Mining and Anglogold Ashanti.
Investing in security
The GMWU also urged mining companies to endeavour to review their security operations and invest in modern security infrastructure that responded to the increasing sophisticated crimes.
It said such an investment would help curb the menace and protect life and property.
The union alleged that although the governments’s ‘Operation Halt Programme’, to end illegal mining (galamsey) was positive, it could be the cause of recent invasion of legally acquired mining concessions by some displaced illegal miners.
“Often times, it results in serious clashes with our valued members, thus putting them in harm’s way. We also urge the government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to take immediate steps to provide complementary security to these mining companies and by extension the sector,” he said.
While commending the government’s plan to roll-out a National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme for illegal small-scale miners affected by the activities of Operation Halt II, it cautioned the initiative could be counterproductive if the jobs that were created out of it were not decent and sustainable.
“We therefore look forward to future consultations with government on its intended programme as we collectively work towards eliminating galamsay in a more sustainable manner,” he said.
Ensuring decent work
Touching on decent work, it said the gradual decline in the decent work gains achieved over the years was being eroded by the pursuit for super normal profit.
Mr Andoh cited a comparative study by the union in 2018 which revealed an inverse relationship existed between standard forms of employment or permanent employment, and non-standard forms of employment or atypical employment.
The study looked at the employment conditions of standard and their non-standard counterparts in Ghana’s mining sector.
“Indeed, this means that for every increase in non-standard employment, there is a corresponding decrease in standard employment in the sector.
“It revealed a standard to non-standard employment ratio of 5:1. This means that for every six new jobs that are created in the sector, five are permanent while one is temporary and mostly associated with inferior employment conditions.
“Again, it emerged that for every standard worker who exited work from 2016, the same role is replaced with a non-standard worker with inferior employment conditions. This trend undoubtedly is fast-undermining the decent work pillars and ought to be checked without any further delay,” he said.
Consequently, he said in the coming days, the union would explore a number of strategies, including a dialogue session with its social partners to discuss these matters more comprehensively in order to find lasting solutions.