Pollution to Water (P2W), an Israeli firm in the mining sector, which employs a technology that treats polluted water and recycles it back to the mines for mining operations is in big trouble for flouting Ghana's Labour Law with impunity.
To this end, the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) of the Trades Union Congress of Ghana (TUCG), has called on the Chief Labour Officer, the National Labour Commission, the National Security Council, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Lands and Natural Resources, as a matter of urgency to bring the management of Pollution to Water (P2W) to book.
The Deputy General Secretary of GMWU, Eric Gyima explained that the management of the Israeli company had been resisting attempts by their workers to unionise, despite the workers decision to unionise in line with provisions of Part XI, especially Sections 79 and 80 of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) of Ghana.
Mr. Gyima added that: "workers of P2W have used legitimate means to unionise, but the management of the company has persistently and arrogantly put impediments in the efforts of the workers to exercise their fundamental right to unionize."
While the GMWU lauds P2W for introducing such an important technology into the mining sector, it does not mean that the management should disregard the country's labour law which seeks to ensure that there is industrial harmony, the deputy general secretary stated.
The leadership of the GMWU told this reporter that it has for more than a year now tried to engage the management of P2W in a civilized manner in respect of the unionisation process.
Unfortunately, the P2W, which has offices in Obuasi, Tarkwa and Bogoso in the Ashanti and Western regions of Ghana refused to cooperate in this regard.
Consequently, GMWU sent a petition to the Office of the Chief Labour Officer, where letters were written to the company on two occasions inviting the management for a meeting in Accra.
They never came, and have since not given any reason or excuse for their failure to honour the Chief Labour Officer's invitation, Mr Gyima revealed.
The Office of the Chief Labour Officer again wrote to both GMWU and P2W with an ultimatum that the two parties should meet in terms of the classification for the bargaining certificate, but still the company refused to turn up.
He warned: "The GMWU would like to indicate that the anti-union posture by the management of P2W has the potential to degenerate into an unpleasant labour agitation by the workers. This obviously will not augur well for an otherwise harmonious and stable industrial relations in the mining sector".
The GMWU is demanding that the relevant state institutions take decisive action in enforcing the provision of the labour law, especially those relating to unionization by Ghanaian workers, particularly in the mining sector.
As a professional labour union, the GMWU has always used dialogue as the best option to address any differences with all stakeholders on issues likely to degenerate into industrial dispute.
But the anti-union posture by the management of P2W gives an indication that they do not want to be civil in handling workers issues, especially those relating to their fundamental human rights and freedoms, Mr. Gyima added.
Accordingly, the GMWU wishes to indicate its readiness to employ and deploy every means available including strikes actions to compel the company to respect the workers fundamental right to unionise.
However, in a response to the GMWU's letter dated 21st August, 2013, the Pollution to Water's Vice President for Africa, Kuki Alkobi wrote: "I am writing to you in response to your letter regarding idea of unionisation of staff. Unfortunately, I am not authorised to meet you on this matter".
He continued: "Within a month's time there will be a board meeting in Israel where I will be able to bring up the matter". But Mr Gyima said the meeting had been held some few weeks ago, which the mining company failed to communicate the workers' unionisation demand to the GMWU.
Mr Alkobi, therefore, requested that in the meantime GMWU to refrain from causing any unrest and harming the gentle fabric of employer-employee relations in P2W, which was being highly maintained with diligent efforts.
He further added that: "we have just completed a series of personal meeting, where they all got another opportunity to voice out their perception of their conditions, so that it should me made clear that extreme efforts are being made to meet the workers' wills".