This is the fear of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), which describes as “striking” the skill pricing and huge wage income inequity affecting the underprivileged middle to lower level workers in the industry.
The 2013 HAYS Resources and Mining Global Salary Guide ranked 37 countries according to locals/nationals and expatriates average annual salaries.
The report indicated that Ghanaian nationals only make US$39,200 compared with their expatriate counterparts of US$152,100 – this represents 25.77% or a quarter of what the expatriates earn.
“The reward for labour in the mining industry in Ghana and for that matter Africa should not only be just wages but fair and equitable wages,” said Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary of the GMWU.
He believes Ghanaian workers are being shortchanged in every aspects, comparing locals with their peers like South Africa (60%), Congo DR (50%), Mozambique (38.56%) and Namibia (51%).
“If you compare the trend across Africa, we are the lowest,” he stated.
Research has also shown that nationals of big economies are not showing interest in mining-related courses, hence the drive to recruit from countries like Ghana.
Mr. Ankrah observed a drive to poach Ghanaian mining professionals to countries like Australia and Canada because of scarcity of experienced hands in advanced economies.
“If we are not very careful, we’ll subject our mining engineers, geologists, and all those whose skills are very scarce and they could leave us any day,” he said.
The 11th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the GMWU on the theme: “Rethinking the Remuneration Landscape in the Mining industry: Critical Perspective(s) for Change”, touched on the core base of workers’ interest – salaries and wages.
The Conference explored avenues to keep businesses going in the face of dwindling fortunes of the mining sector.
The global fall in gold prices has had heavy impact in Ghana’s mining sector – some companies have closed shop whilst others are laying off workers.
The meeting discussed areas of consolidation to sustain jobs and livelihoods.