The increasing conversion of standard jobs to non-standard jobs in the mining sector is putting the well-being of Ghana’s mineworkers in jeopardy.
The hike in the offer of non-standard jobs (fixed contract employment) instead of the well-known standard jobs (permanent full-time employment), is also creating uncertainty for work in the country’s mines.
Although mining firms are using the non-standard job system to manage staff numbers, labour cost and drive productivity, the mineworkers believe it is not the best since it has an adverse effect on their morale and welfare.
The Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU), which strongly opposes what it describes as the “non-standard job menace,” says that among other adverse effects, the new system diminishes the workers’ right to collective bargaining and unionisation.
By the nature of fixed term contracts, workers do receive benefits that usually accompany open term or permanent employment, such as annual leave, sick leave, health insurance and pension contributions—a situation the GMWU finds troubling.
“There is also no job security for mineworkers,” says Abdul-Moomin Gbana, Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union.
Also, he said the fix term contract system is easily used to by employers to trample on the rights of workers, explaining that because the workers have no job security, they tend to oblige with anything their managers say.
He said because the contracts have options for renewal after the expiration of the fixed term, employees find it difficult to challenge those who hold the key to the contract renewal.
“The fix term contract menace is becoming a major problem in the mining sector,” Mr Gbana told ADR Daily in an interview on the welfare of mineworkers in Ghana.
According to him, the fixed term contract phenomenon has increased astronomically in the last five years in the country’s mining industry, indicating that many of the contract jobs contravene the Labour Act.
Section 75 (1) of the Labour Act 2003, 9 (Act 651) states that “a temporary worker who is employed by the same employer for a continuous period of six months and more shall be treated under this Part as a permanent worker.” Clause (2) says “without prejudice to the terms and conditions of employment mutually agreed to by the parties, the provisions of this Act in respect of minimum wage, hours of work, rest period, paid public holidays, night work and sick leave are applicable to a contract of employment with a temporary worker.”
Mr Gbana indicated that the Union, which has a cardinal principle of protecting and promoting the welfare of mineworkers, would continue to fight the fix-term job menace and ensure that the rights of workers were not violated by employers.
There is a growing global campaign against fix-term contracts, especially in labour intensive sector.
For instance in a study by IG Metall, the dominant metalworkers’ union in Germany, that surveyed 514,134 employees in over 8,400 establishments between February and April 2013, an overwhelming majority of participants (88%) said that an open-ended contract was a ‘significant’ part of job security and fair working conditions, and rejected fixed term contracts.
By Samuel Mingle/adrdaily.com