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11.11.2005 General News

BGL Workers accuse Management of paying bribes

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Bogoso (W/R), Nov. 11, GNA - Workers of Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL), a subsidiary of Golden Star Resources of Canada, last Wednesday kept vigil drumming and singing songs in which they accused the Management of the Company of paying huge bribes to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Police.

One of the songs said: "If you could pay huge bribes to EPA and the Police then pay us our bonus."

The workers held the Senior Staff hostage for almost 18 hours over a misunderstanding on the payment of end of year bonus.

They locked up the Senior Staff in their offices from the evening of last Wednesday until the afternoon of Thursday. The workers, who wore red armbands refused to allow the Senior Staff to leave their offices. In addition, they deflated the tyres of the vehicles of the Senior Staff and blocked the entrance to the Administration Block forcing them to spend the night in their offices.

However, an agreement was reached on the afternoon of Thursday, November 10. The workers agreed to leave the Company premises and to resume work on Friday, November 11.

Negotiations on the bonus is continuing on Friday with the Leadership of BGL Local Mine Workers Union of Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) of Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Speaking to Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Bogoso, Mr Bukari Osmanu, Secretary of the Union, explained that in January this year, the workers in a letter asked the Management to come out with a bonus scheme and to set up a target, which when achieved, would determine the bonus for the year, but the Management failed to respond to the letter.

He said in March, a reminder was sent to the Management with an ultimatum that by July 31, this year, if the target was not set, each worker would be entitled to five months basic salary or 10 million cedis as bonus.

The Union Secretary said after the July 31 deadline without any reply from the Management, the Union sent another letter to the Management demanding 10 million cedis or five months basic salary for every worker.

Mr Osmanu said on Monday November 7, this year, Management met the Leadership of the Union and Mr Bruce Higson-Smith, General Manager of the Company came out with a target of 131,000 ounces of gold to be achieved by the end of December and the bonus to be paid.

He said when the workers were informed about the target and the bonus scheme, they realized that the target could not be achieved and requested a meeting with the General Manager.

Mr Osmanu said the workers went berserk, blocked the main entrance and held the Senior Staff and Management hostage until Thursday afternoon.

Other grievances of the workers were, non-categorization of workers; lack of housing allowance and meagre salaries for them, who performed most of the work.

Mr Higson-Smith reacting to the grievances of the workers admitted that the year had been bad in terms of mining because there was a shut down order by the EPA.

He said the Management in addition; spent a lot of money on an Underground Mine at Prestea that resulted in the Company becoming financially handicapped.

The General Manager, however, said the Management was open to dialogue and re-negotiation on the bonus and other issues with mutual respect.