6 June 2014

Ghana: NLC Stops Newmont From Laying-Off Workers

Ghana's National Labour commission (NLC) has directed Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL), a mining company, to stop any plan to sack 600 of its workers.

The Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), which dragged the mining firm to the commission over the plan to sack the workers, welcomed the ruling. The Deputy General Secretary of the GMWU, Eric Kwabena Gyima, told The Chronicle on phone: "The ruling means that Newmont cannot go ahead with the retrenchment exercise."

Newmont had given notice that it was going to lay-off 600 workers by the end of the second quarter of this year, as part of efforts to improve and ensure cost and operational efficiency. But, the GMWU finds it interesting why Newmont wants to go ahead with the redundancy exercise, when factual evidence available showed a vibrant business outlook on a pedestal of growth and progress.

Both parties presented their case to the NLC on Wednesday, but the NLC ruled that Newmont should rather seek arbitration on the matter with the mine workers union. Mr. Gyima said:"The Labour Commission, at the end of the meeting, ruled that we should seek arbitration. On Friday, both parties are to choose on the type of mediation they want; the commission has also ruled that if mediation fails, we should return to them."

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Yaw Effa-Baafi, who earlier added his voice to the concerns being expressed by the GMWU, feared that the on-going retrenchment by mining companies, including Newmont, as a result of a decline in gold price, would promote illegal mining activities in the country.

He said the intention of NGGL to lay-off 500-600 workers in the coming months, in the bid to sustain viable operations in the country, would have dire consequences on the affected workers and their dependents. "I hope the company will retrench those who do little work in the mine and collect huge salaries," he said.

Meanwhile, the mine workers have threatened to embark on an industrial action if Newmont ignores the NLC's ruling, and goes ahead to sack 600 of its workers this year.

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