Mineworkers are eager to know the outcomes from the Professor Akilakpa Sawyer Committee instituted by the late, Professor John Evans Atta Mills in 2012, and tasked to review and make recommendations to government on the various contractual agreements the country has with mining companies.
As a strong advocate of the initiative, the Mineworkers’ Union says it is concerned with the slow pace of the Committee’s work.
“We would like to urge government to make available to the public the final report of the committee, if it has finished its work,” General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) Prince William Ankrah told the National Executive Council (NEC) in Tarkwa last week.
He made these observations when he addressed the NEC of GMWU to mark the Union’s 70th anniversary celebration, which was occasioned on June 7 this year (2014).
He recounted the 70 years of the Union’s growth to the present day — from when the mineworker was seen ‘just as one of the production inputs’ of the colonial capitalist profiteering machinery that has plundered the country’s mineral wealth to the present day — noting that in relative terms the mines have seen marginal improvements.
“A Union formed out of naked exploitation by captains of industry definitely has a story to tell,” Ankrah opined.
He was however glad to state that the trend has changed in recent times, whereby mineworkers have gained dignity and recognition in Ghanaian society through improved living conditions, largely ascribed to the sector’s commendable transformation during the PNDC era.
“Notable among the measures taken was implementation of the Economic Recovery Programme, which facilitated the inflow of foreign direct investment into the industry as well as introduction of management contracts into the predominantly state-owned mines.”
He noted that the commercial acumen of the Rawlings-led administration redirected focus of the industry and brought life to an ailing sector.
He mentioned the Mineral and Mining Law of 1986, establishment of the Minerals Commission, as well as structural reforms that brought improved wages/salaries through the introduction of income supplements — such as the mining incentives of 25% of employees basic salaries for underground and 15% of the basic salary.
“Overtime work was also non-taxable.”
The General Secretary told the NEC that in responding to the changing labour market as well as the needs of members, leadership of the GMWU sought new ways of doing business. He mentioned five businesses established or acquired: Golden Pride Savings & Loans Limited; Ghana Mineworkers Union Support
Scheme; Unique Insurance Limited (LIFE); Precious Logistics; and Precious Real Estates as GMWU investments.
Prince Ankrah however said it is regrettable that 4,000 employees in the industry were made redundant in 2013. He blamed it on reckless spending in areas such as procurement, new mines acquisition and reckless spending on expatriate staff.
He said the GMWU takes consolation in the fact that in recent times the Minerals Commission has stepped-up implementation of the localisation policy in regulating the industry to stem the growing tide of expatriates.
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