We cannot pay increased utility tariffs – Organised Labour
The 18 unions under the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and major labour unions in both the public and private sector on Tuesday said they cannot pay the increased utility tariffs introduced recently.
Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the TUC, who spoke on behalf of the Unions at a press conference in Accra said members were giving government a 10-working day ultimatum to slash the tariffs increases to one-third.
“We have proposed to government that it would be necessary to stagger the implementation of the tariff increases…Our formula for the phase implementation is that we implement one-third of the increase this year, another one-third next year and the rest in 2015,” he said.
Mr Asamoah said organised labour was shocked and outraged by the levels of the increases, saying, “We fail to understand the rationale for such astronomical increases when government was only able to increase salaries by a mere 10 percent.”
Lamenting on the economic hardships brought on Ghanaians by the increases, the TUC Secretary General said the price of fuel had gone up about five times with cumulative increases of about 30 percent.
Transport and nearly all other prices are rising well above the income levels of most Ghanaians, he said, and explained that organised labour was not against the increase but “what the utility companies needed was not a mere rooftop increases in tariffs”.
Mr Asamoah recalled that in 2010 when the last huge increases were made, stakeholders agreed on the need for regular reviews and adjustment based on the Automatic Adjustment Formula to check the need for one-off super increases that eroded incomes and made life unbearable for most Ghanaians.
He said “For reasons of political expediency, the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) acting on the promptings of government failed to implement what all the stakeholders agreed was the best way,” adding the PURC and government were asking Ghanaians to pay for the cost of political expediency.
The TUC therefore called for time bound investments in both energy and water infrastructure and urged government to make the necessary core investment and also to ensure that people appointed to manage the companies were competent and had the necessary incentives to behave in the national interest.
The Congress further asked government for an elaborate plan for payment of the differentials or back pay of the 10 percent salary increase before the end of 2013.