TUC under attack for ultimatum to PURC
The General Secretary of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), Mr Abraham Koomson, has described the threat by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to embark on an industrial action as ‘opportunistic, hypocritical and populist’.
He told the Daily Graphic that although the federation was against the skyrocketing hikes in water and electricity tariffs, the move by the TUC to unilaterally take a decision for all labour unions in the country without their consent was unacceptable.
Mr Koomson reminded the leadership of the TUC that the days when the TUC represented the entire labour front in the country were over, especially with the amendment in 2003 of the Industrial Relations Act 1965 which expunged the name of TUC from the law and replaced it with ‘organised labour’.
He explained that as it stood, the TUC did not include teachers’ unions, civil servants and other working groups and so it could not speak on their behalf.
He expressed surprise that after all the labour organisations, including the TUC, had met last Saturday on the issues and asked the TUC to draft a statement and make it available to all the other organisations to make their input, the TUC single-handedly went ahead to issue a statement as if it represented all the concerns of Ghanaian workers.
On Monday, October 7, organised labour gave the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the government 10 working days to reduce the recent tariff increases on utilities.
The group warned that it would be forced to resort to industrial action if the ultimatum was ignored.
The workers’ group categorically asked the government, the PURC and the utility companies to divide the payment of the 78.9 per cent and 52 per cent adjustment in electricity and water tariffs, respectively, into three within the time frame given and consumers made to pay only a third this year and the same proportion in subsequent years.
Mr Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary General of the TUC, gave the ultimatum at a press conference on the recent upward adjustment in utility tariffs in Accra.
Last week, the TUC said the recent tariff increases announced by the PURC were too high for Ghanaian workers to pay.
Outraged by the rate of increases, the TUC said ‘it finds a near 80 per cent increase in electricity tariffs and over 50 per cent increase in water to be too high and well above the pocket of the ordinary Ghanaian’.
Explaining the accusation of hypocrisy against the TUC, Mr Koomson said the congress had been on the board of the PURC and been privy to some information which it deliberately refused to make available to other labour unions.
He added that it was until recently that the other labour organisations heard from the TUC that it (TUC) once suggested to the PURC to stagger the increment and said that move by the TUC smacked of hypocrisy.
‘How could one be part of a decision and later turn round to criticise same?’ he asked.
He expressed worry that already the manufacturing sector was laying off a large number of workers as a result of other problems and that had been compounded by the tariff increases, adding, ‘It will be suicidal for workers in such a distressed sector to embark on industrial action against the government, a move that will affect their companies and result in more layoffs.’
On Wednesday, September 25, the PURC announced a 78.9 per cent increment in electricity and 52 per cent for water, effective October 1, this year.
The increments fall short of the 166 and 112 per cent requested by the electricity and water providers, respectively.
There has not been any major adjustment in water and electricity tariffs since June 1, 2010.
By Donald Ato Dapatem/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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