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06.12.2011 General News

Chirano Gold Mine Sacks Workers For Illegal Demonstration

By Della Russel Ocloo - Daily Graphic
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A number of workers of the African Mining Services (AMS) stationed at the Chiranoo Gold Mine at in the Western Region have been dismissed by the management of the company for demonstrating in solidarity with a dismissed colleague.

The workers embarked on the demonstration when management terminated the appointment of Mr John Etsebah, a siren operator, on November 6, 2011, for sounding a siren to mobilise workers against an earlier decision taken by the leadership of the company.

The company took a decision to offload four other employees of the Golden Star Resources at Bogoso, a relatively new project which was still under development, in an attempt to avoid the payment of their severance packages.

Thirty four of the workers who complied with a directive to sign an undertaking not to embark on similar actions in future have been reinstated. The rest remain dismissed but have been asked to reapply.

The dismissed workers have not been paid any money accruing to them.

Company officials have, however, discounted the claims of the number of people dismissed, saying, “they terminated the appointment of some 190 employees for embarking on an illegal strike in breach of the collective bargaining agreement contracted between the company and the Ghana Mine Workers’ Union (GMWU).

The workers’ trouble began when officials decided to offload about four workers to another mining company which is yet to start operation but failed to pay the workers severance awards as stipulated by the company’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

That decision was opposed by a cross section of the workers who expressed their displeasure, and the sounding of the siren by Etsebah was interpreted as a move to mobilise the workers to agitate.

His dismissal angered some of the workforce who expressed their disapproval by demonstrating in solidarity with him.

The management of the company, in a move to deny the four offloaded workers their packages, allegedly issued directives on Oct 31, 2011 transfering them to Golden Star Resources at Bogoso, a relatively new project which is still under development.

The four, according to some workers who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity, however, opted to be made redundant in accordance with the CBA between the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) of the Trades Union Congress ( TUC) and the AMS.

Clause four of article 12 of the collective bargaining agreement states that “an employee being considered for reassignment as a consequence of a reduction in the number of people performing a particular job function in the operation of the company, that employee may choose to either accept the reassignment or be made redundant”.

Management has since withheld the salaries of the four transferred employees and has also deleted their names from the employee list for failing to comply with the transfer notice.

The dismissed workers have also accused company officials of gross disrespect, abuse of human rights, and racism against the workforce.

According to them, inhumane treatment of workers had led to a douzer operator suffering from severe injuries as a result of his falling into a pit.

The injured employee, Mr Paul Gregory Coffie , it is alleged, has been crippled by the accident and has since remained bedridden since he could not afford GH¢6,000 being demanded for surgical operations on his spinal cord which was badly affected as a result of the accident with management saying they could only reimburse him after he had treated himself and provided receipts to justify his claims.

In like manner, they claimed a machine operator, Mr Samuel Owusu Antwi, also suffered a grease injection injury in December 2010, resulting from high accumulation of pressure on the grease pump and was also recuperating at home, since he could not afford payment for an operation to remove the grease from his veins.

The operations manager of the AMS, Mr Eric Paddy, when contacted declined to comment on the issues raised and referred this reporter to the general manager of the company, Mr John Kavanagh, who similarly declined to comment on the issue. However, he said in a press statement sent to the Daily Graphic that the termination of the appointment of the 190 workers was firmly grounded on the laws of Ghana.

The release said to the knowledge of the GMWU, AMS was offering to re-employ workers who wished to return to work and abide by the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It further indicated that some 120 employees who had chosen to return to work with the company would be re-employed in accordance with the company’s contract code.

Mr Kavanagh gave the assurance that the AMS would continue to collaborate with the GMWU as the recognised representative of the employees to ensure workplace harmony through the fair and reasonable application of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement and the laws of Ghana.

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