Local mine workers short-changed— GMWU

ANKRAHThe General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU)  of the Trades Union Congress Ghana (TUC) Ghana, Prince William Ankrah has expressed concern over the salary disparity between local and expatriate mine workers.

According to him, while the annual salary of  some  expatriate  Managing Directors of mining companies stood between $450,000 and $1 million annually, that of their local counterparts  stood at $7,200.

Mr Ankrah who disclosed this in his opening speech at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the GMWU in Accra, therefore, called on stakeholders in the mining industry to address the salary disparity between expatriate and local mine workers, saying “this trend of inequity cannot continue.”

The NEC meeting, the second to be held this year, was attended by ward executives of the Union across the country.  As part of the programme, some new elected officers were sworn into office.

He explained that historically mine workers were paid paltry salaries with the notion that they would go on spending spree and create shortage of labour force in the industry, if they were paid well.

“Even though the Union has made efforts over the years to reverse this ugly pattern, the trend is still disturbing and thus require some sensible interventions,’’ he said, adding that “efforts to get the salary disparity addressed has been slow.”

“We are therefore, cautioning all the major mines in Ghana to come clean with us in confronting this remuneration biases in order to create a productive and humane working environment,” he said.

Mr. Ankrah said that a balanced pay and benefit system had the potential to grow small and medium size businesses in the mining communities, and will lead to a strong purchasing and consuming power of the mine workers.

The General Secretary raised qualms about poor infrastructure in the mining communities and proposed that 30 per cent of mining revenues should be allocated into a development fund to address the infrastructure challenges.

He said mining could be a catalyst for development and Ghana could learn from Australia, South Africa and America on how those countries used mining to build vibrant and commercial cities.

Mr Ankrah said the fall in gold prices on the international market and erratic power supply to the mining companies was posing a big challenge to the mining industry and leading to cut back on staff by some mining companies.

He said that about 4500 mine workers had been laid off this year by  the mining companies due to the fall in gold prices and erratic power supply.

“Indeed if anybody had predicted 20 years ago that the Obuasi Mine would shed members from 15,000 to 800 plus today one would have arguably considered it impossible,” he said..

The Chairman of GMWU, Kwarko Mensah Gyakari in his opening remarks called on the mining companies to find innovative ways to reduce their cost of production in view of the dwindling gold prices on the world market and erratic power supply, instead of always cutting down on staff.

Describing the staff cut as a lazy approach by the management of mining companies in reducing cost, the Chairman called on the companies to tackle the waste associated with their procurement to reduce the cost of operation.

By Kingsley Asare

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