GNAT Supports TUC On Tariffs Slash
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) says it fully supports the stance taken by Trades Union Congress (TUC) to force the government to reduce the hike in utility tariffs which took effect from October 1.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) announced increases of 78.9 per cent and 52 per cent respectively in electricity and water tariffs but it ruffled the feathers of every Ghanaian and has also incensed organized labour.
The TUC subsequently expressed outrage about the rate of increases and said it was advising itself if the government failed to slash the rates within 10 days because economic conditions in the country had become unbearable.
‘The committee is of the view that, it is morally wrong for government to award 10 percent increase in salaries only to turn round and impose such high increases in utility tariffs…The increases are just too high, workers and indeed all Ghanaians are crying – We just cannot pay!,’ TUC Secretary-General Kofi Asamoah said in a statement.
According to PURC, the 78.9 per cent and 52 per cent increments had already been gazetted and nothing could be done about it.
After the TUC ultimatum, Information Minister Mahama Ayariga told the media that TUC’s approach to get the government to interfere in the work of PURC—which he said is an independent body—was unacceptable and described the move as ‘misdirected.’
Labour agitation is most likely to grow in the coming days if nothing is done about the situation.
In the ensuing confusion, GNAT has come out strongly to endorse the TUC’s move, saying that its members fully support and would participate in all activities organized with the view to reduce the hardship that has been inflicted on its members as a result of the recent increments.
A statement issued in Accra and signed by Irene Duncan-Adanusa, GNAT General-Secretary, said that ‘whilst GNAT is not averse to increases in tariffs for these essential services, we find it difficult to accept the rates of increases announced by the PURC when viewed against the backdrop that public service salaries was increased by only 10 per cent for 2013.’
The statement said that the schedule for payment of the arrears from January to August 2013 had still not been concluded and wondered why there could be increments in utilities.
‘There is no way that our members can accommodate such huge increases; we advocate for gradual increases in line with what has been suggested by Organized Labour.
‘Anything short of that will be resisted fiercely to enable our members to stay afloat in these difficult times.
‘We appeal to government to listen to the voices of the people to ensure industrial harmony which is needed for political and economic stability,’ the statement said.
By William Yaw Owusu
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