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Mine Workers Angry Over 0%
 
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30-Aug-2011  
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Richard Obrien, CEO Newmont Ghana (left), Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance(middle), Mark Cutifani CEO, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana(right)
 
 
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The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Ghana is seething with anger over information that began filtering through last week that the state of Ghana no more has a share in the gold mining conglomerate currently degrading our landscape, and taking its resources to enrich the Western nations.

In the words of General Secretary Prince William Ankrah, the Union would campaign with other civil society pressure groups to reduce the foreign capital components in the existing ownerships, as a means of ensuring that the legitimate owners of the wealth benefit from its exploitation.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, early this year, wrote a letter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, complaining about the way the state had lost its 10% shareholdings in some of the mining companies in the country.

According to the Finance Minister, Ghana, currently, holds zero percent (0%) shares in the Newmont Ahafo and Akyem Projects, Noble Mineral Resources Bibiani Project, AngloGold Ashanti, Ashanti (Obuasi) and Iduaprim and Teberebie projects.

According to Dr. Duffuor’s letter, this had arisen because Parliament ratified some of the agreements with the mining giants, contrary to the Mining Law 1986 (PNDC law 153) and the Minerals and Mining Act 206 (Act703), which mandate the government to acquire ten percent (10%) rights and obligations of minerals operations in Ghana.

The Finance Minister argued in the said letter that though Article 268 of the Constitution grants Parliament the authority to ratify agreements relating to natural resources, nowhere in the Constitution is Parliament given the added power to ratify agreements that contradict the laws of the country.

“In fact, Economic Objectives, Article 36 (4) places an onus on the state to ensure that foreign investments shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being in force regulating investment in Ghana,” Duffuor noted in his letter to the Attorney General, adding “your opinion and advice on this matter will, therefore, be greatly appreciated, particularly, if the state can legally take steps to rectify the current status.”

Prince William Ankrah, who was speaking at the 10th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the Union in Sunyani on Wednesday, August 24, 2011, appears to have supported the stance of the Finance Minister, hinting that his outfit would do everything possible to support civil society organisations to ensure that the state of Ghana derives maximum benefit from the precious mineral.

The General Secretary of the GMWU, commended the government for implementing the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GEITI), but urged her to resource the body to effectively deliver its mandate, including the dicey issue of capital flight.

On remuneration, Prince Ankrah disclosed that the ratio between the layers was very questionable, which leads to complete alienation, and thus impacts negatively on accelerated and sustainable business success.

According to him, it appears people were being paid by virtue of their colour and not skill, explaining that expatriates and Ghanaian nationals who are on the same job grade and with same qualifications have vast differentials in terms of remuneration.

He stressed that the Union finds the system questionable, and would continue to drum-up the issue until rationality prevails, adding that the concern regarding the glaring inequity in the reward landscape in the mining industry, should not be misconstrued to be the union’s dislike for their expatriate colleagues.

Prince Ankrah indicated that the difference in earnings between the highest paid top management and the lowest paid employee was very astronomical, and in many instances, compensation committees are lured to make such recommendations, but have had a backlash from shareholders, and are occasionally made to overturn such levels of unethical adjustments.

The General Secretary of the GMWU, regretted that the mining industry had failed to cultivate a trustful relationship with community leaders and the indigenes, and that in many instances, operating mines within some catchment areas had failed to honour promises made, regarding the provision of certain infrastructural support.

He continued that these circumstances, coupled with inadvertent occasional spillage of chemicals into water bodies, had compounded the problem, thus creating animosity and tension between communities within the catchment areas, and the mining companies concerned.

According to him, the situation required a quick reversal on the part of mining houses concerned, in line with 21st Century business ethics, and to create the platform for business excellence.

Brother Ankrah further expressed the GMWU’s misgivings, regarding the poor rating of environmental standards scored by almost all the mining companies, based on the judgment of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Overall, the union dares say that the performance of the companies in the industry were shameful,” he added.

He suggested that an internal peer review pressure group be instituted to tease each other towards excellence in this important area.

The GMWU also raised concerns on the issues of health and safety. According to Ankrah, there seemed to be lack of attention in relation to the human equation, which is placing profit before people, noting that many business entities had neglected inputs from employees and how they impact on business, adding, “this trend obviously requires a reversal.”
 
 
 
Source: The Chronicle
 
 

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