Workers of Newmont Akyem project angry with management

miningA total of 150 expatriates working at the Newmont Akyem Project at New Abirem in the Eastern Region have fled and are currently seeking refuge in Accra following a violent action undertaken last Tuesday by 900 staff of the company’s two sub-construction companies.

The workers were said to have wielded guns and clubs at the expatriates and also kept some of the employers hostage, making them sign an agreement under duress to increase their basic salaries.

Due to the violent action undertaken by staff from the ‘Group 5’  and  ‘Wade Walker’ construction companies, work on the site is currently on hold, making Newmont to lose about $4 million.

A reliable source who pleaded anonymity told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the workers had been contracted to work with the sub-construction firms for one year for a pay of GH¢3.00 per hour.

It said the contract was set to expire at the end of April this year, with an agreement that the workers would be given an unspecified end of service benefit.

With just about two months to the completion of the contract, the workers had a hint that the management was going to lay off some of them, so that it (Newmont) would only have a few workers to take care of at the end of the project in April.

Sensing foul play, the workers quickly went to find out from their employers how much they would go home with when the contract period expired, but were told that they would be given 10 days which is the equivalence of 80 hours pay as their end of service benefit, when they the workers  had requested for 1000 hours take home pay initially.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at New Abirem, Mr Felix Apoh, External Affairs Manager of Newmont-Akyem Project, explained that the workers were agitating for their basic salary increase and payment of their severance award.

He said though the workers had the right to agitate for improvement of their conditions of service, they needed to do so through negotiation with their employers rather than resort to violence to the extent of taking the management hostage and making them sign an agreement under duress.

Mr Apoh, however, pledged management’s readiness to sit with the workers to negotiate on their conditions of service but said this would happen after the workers had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be of good behaviour.

Meanwhile, the representatives of both groups have calmed their angry members and have convinced them to sign the MOU on Thursday when they are scheduled to go back to work pending negotiations with the management  next week.

Mr Emmanuel Victor Smith, Out-going Eastern Regional Minister, who visited the site and met with the workers, entreated them to remain calm and to help sustain the company since the project was there to assist them and the entire populace in the area.

He assured the company that they were going to be given security to enable them to operate smoothly.

“Government does not encourage what has happened and so we are here to assure the company that  we value the work they are doing here in Ghana”, he said.

Ms Mavis Ama Frimpong, District Chief Executive (DCE) of Abirem reminded the workers that they were not wrong to agitate for better conditions of service but it was against the laws of Ghana to let somebody sign an agreement under duress.

She therefore appealed to them to use the laid down lawful channels in conveying their grievances across to their employers.

Source: GNA

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