The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU) says the increasing conversion of permanent mining sector jobs into non-standard or contract jobs is threatening the wellbeing of workers.

The hike in short-term or fixed contract employment, instead of permanent full-time employment, has also led to noncompliance of collective agreements and other conditions of service, it said.

Mr Mensah Kwarko Gyarkari, the Chairman of the GMWU, said this at the Mid-Year National Executive Council (NEC) Meeting at New Abirem in the Eastern Region.

“Increasingly, employment in the mining industry is fast transforming from long term permanent status to short term contract. This, invariably, has led to noncompliance of collective agreements and other conditions of employment,” he said.

Mr Gyakari called for immediate attention and targeted intervention to reverse the trend and protect workers.

“The issue of the right job security must be a concern for all of us at every level because it threatens our very survival,” he added.

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Union officials say the labour right body is at a crossroads regarding the many factors hampering its activities.

Mr Prince William Ankrah, the General Secretary of the Union, said those non-standard forms of employment crept into the industry a few years back but had gained momentum in recent times.

“Today, virtually all companies have a good number of their employees engaged on fixed term basis with some almost achieving parity between permanent and fixed term employment, a logic, which is at variance with the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651).”

Labour experts say the phenomenon is a subject matter for intense ideological contestation between capital and labour.

Whiles some employers argue that it is the most efficient labour mobility mechanism in competitive globalised investment environment, trade unions strongly believe it is another neo-liberal attack to weaken unions and profiteer on workers by stealing their earnings and benefits through weak contracts and precarious arrangements.

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Mr Ankrah said: “Considering the precarious nature of most non-standard forms of employment and their impact on both workers and the society, the NEC will thoroughly discuss this matter and come out with concrete strategies to confront this growing trend, which is fast becoming a menace in the sector.”

He expressed worry over the excessive taxation imposed on Ghana’s working class by the Government.

“Already the earnings of the average Ghanaian is low yet virtually every benefit is ruthlessly taxed. The situation is further aggravated by the many hidden indirect taxes that workers still have to contend with,” he said.

He urged state officials to rethink the current income tax regime to lessen the tax burden on workers.

Mr Ankrah raised concern about the current infrastructure deficit in mining communities despite the sector recording GH¢1.6 billion in 2016 as direct domestic revenue, representing 23 per cent growth rate, relative to 2015.

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The mining sector remains the leading contributor to Ghana’s fiscal purse according to the Ghana Chamber of Mines.

“The paradox, however, is why mining communities remain shantytowns in the midst of all these mineral resources,” Ankrah said.

He bemoaned the poor infrastructure situation facing the country, particularly the road and rail sectors, which was responsible for the rising cost of transaction for many businesses.

“For instance, the current major operational challenge for companies like Ghana Bauxite Company and Ghana Manganese Company is the rising haulage cost of transporting ore from the operational sites to the port,” he said.

He commended government for setting up a Ministry of Railways Development and urged it to take practical steps towards revamping the rail sector.

Source: GNA/NewsGhana.com.gh