The General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), Prince William Ankrah, says the Union supports the decision of AngloGold to modernise its mines, but reiterated that it should equally be prepared to pay world-class salaries to its workers.

Mr. Ankrah said the leadership of GMWU has initiated a process to ensure that members acquire the needed skills that will be required in a modernised mine, adding that the union will not invest in better skills for its members while their pay is not commensurate with the new skills.

?If you expect GMWU members to operate the machines that will give the production of a world-class mine, then it is fair that their pay meets world-class standards. We want to signal our policymakers who do not understand the dynamics of the trend in the mining industry to begin to shut up.  The GMWU will not be ready to discuss world-class jobs and world-class skills with Ghanaian wage and salary logic.?

The GMWU wants to see mineworkers paid adequately, Mr. Ankrah reiterated.

He made these statements when he addressed the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union in Obuasi last week.
Mr. Ankrah said a mineworker in Ghana, after working in the mines for five years, should be able to earn a considerable amount of money to decide to work in other sectors of the economy — and this can only take place if the mineworker is paid according to the high skill he/she possesses.

He said the GMWU sees the income inequality in the industry as ?irritating? and ?ugly?. He cited an example where a mine company boss earns US$110,000 a month, while the lowest paid person in the same company earns US$507 a month.

?Besides, this same boss has options when the share price goes up; thus, in terms of job-security such bosses are in paradise,? Mr. Ankrah added.

He said he is prepared to lead a team to engage mining companies about this income disparity in an enlightened way. GMWU, he said, believes the National Labour Commission (NLC) cannot intervene to address this income disparity, and is prepared to employ ?positive radicalism? to confront the issue head-on.

He said mineworkers are eager to work with mining companies which have the conviction to put people or workers first in any action they take.
He said recent commentaries about the mining industry have been hyped with the fall in gold prices.

?Looking at the trend in the mining industry, it is indeed amazing that since 2008 on average the gold price has gone up by 300 dollars. Unfortunately, what we saw were reckless acquisitions and mergers, reckless procurement and spending patterns. There was an influx of expatriates with no value addition, just coming in to enjoy at the expense of those who sweat in the bowels of the earth to produce the wealth of the nation in terms of foreign exchange reserves,? he said.

However, he added, when there are storms in terms of gold price declines, management of the mining companies call for downsizing of staff, and creates the impression ?that they are writing an obituary of the mining industry?.

Mr. Ankrah said the industry survived when the price of gold fell in the past, because the industry adopted some sensible measures that enabled them to pull through. He warned of a strike if the Union is ?provoked?.

By Konrad Kodjo Djaisi

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