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Brawl over ‘special compensation pay’: Obuasi Mines on time bomb

chronicle June 3, 2019

From Frederick Danso Abeam, Obuasi

Tension is said to be brewing between the Ghana Mines Workers Union (GMWU), some management members of AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mines, and about 500 of its ex-workers over an alleged forged letter, which is being used by the former workers to ‘dupe’ the company.

Investigations conducted by The Chronicle revealed that when the AngloGold Obuasi Mines was closed down somewhere in 2013, the over five hundred workers of the mining giant were paid all their severance packages, which ran into millions of dollars.

Five years down the line, the ex-workers have produced a document with the heading, ‘Special Compensatory Pay’,  which they claimed was negotiated and agreed upon on Tuesday June 18, 2013, for AngloGold Ashanti to pay them another huge sums of money as their severance packages.

According to the ex-workers, the said agreement was signed between them and some current members of the AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine, management team, executives of GMWU and the Chief Labour Officer in Accra, Mr. Eugene Nar Korletey.

However, all those whose signatures appeared on the 2013 document, including the Chief Labour Officer, have denied appending their signatures to any document, even though they admit that the signatures belong to them.

They are accusing the ex-workers of picking their signatures and scanning them on the document to suggest that they were party to the purported negotiation and the fresh demand being made by the ex-workers.

The ex-workers would also not accept this claim by those whose signatures appeared on the document that they did not know anything about it, and are threatening to hand over the issue to their lawyers.

The Chronicle heard that on May 3, 2019, the ex-workers wanted to hit the streets of Obuasi to protest against the denial being made by those who signed the agreement with them, but the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Elijah Adansi Bonah, who got wind of the intended demonstration, intervened and summoned all the parties in the dispute to his office.

At the said meeting, Mr. Elijah Adansi Bonah pleaded with all the ‘warring’ parties to let peace prevail and not do anything that will jeopardise the peace being enjoyed at Obuasi.

“We are all from Obuasi. Let us not use this to start anything that will fight against the security of the mining town. I urge you all to be patient,” Mr. Adansi Bonah added.

However, following the insistence by some management members of AngloGold Obuasi Mine and GMWU representatives present at the meeting that they did not sign any agreement with the ex-workers, there was a stalemate in the negotiations, and all the parties agreed to meet in Accra in the presence of the Chief Labour, who has also been accused of signing the document to thrash out the issue.

The agreed meeting came on in Accra on Thursday May 30, 2019, and was attended by the executives of GMWU, leaders of the ex-workers, some management members of AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine, the Chief Labour Officer, Mr. Eugene Nar Korletey, and the Municipal Chief Executive for Obuasi, Mr. Elijah Adansi Bonah. Also present at the meeting was this reporter.

After over two hours of deliberations, the GMWU executives, Eugene Nar Korletey and all those who are being accused of signing the document insisted that they knew nothing about the said Special Compensatory pay for the ex-workers.

“The signature is mine. I don’t recall signing to the content of that agreement,” the Chief Labour Officer insisted at the meeting.

The leadership of the Ghana Mines Workers, apart from the official denial, also gave the ex-workers a two-week ultimatum to withdraw the disputed document from the public domain or face the consequences of their actions in court.

The ex-workers, as at the time of filing this report, have not indicated whether they will withdraw the document, as was being demanded or not.

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