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11.11.2005 General News

Senior Staff of BGL held hostage over bonus

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Bogoso (W/R), Nov.11, GNA - The Senior Staff of Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) were held hostage for almost 18 hours over a misunderstanding on the payment of end of year bonus.

They were locked up in their offices from the evening of last Wednesday by the workers who wore red arm bands, drumming, singing and refused to allow the Senior Staff to leave their offices. In addition, they deflated car tyres of the Senior Staff and blocked entrance to the Administration block forcing them to spend the night in their offices.

Meanwhile an agreement was reached on the afternoon of Thursday, November 10, that the workers leave the company premises and resume work on Friday, November 11.

Negotiations on the bonus is expected to continue on Friday with the leadership of BGL Local Mine Workers Union of Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) of Trade 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 to set up a target upon 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 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 perform 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He said Management in addtion; spent a lot of money on the Underground Mine at Prestea that resulted in the company being financially handicapped. The General manager however, said Management was open to dialogue and re-negotiation on the bonus and other issues with mutual respect. 11 Nov.05