Workers in the country have given government up to Wednesday, January 13, 2016 to reduce the utility tariffs or face a series of nationwide protests.
They have also asked government to immediately withdraw the Energy Sector Levy Act, 2015 (Act 899), which has resulted in astronomical and unjustified increases in the prices of petroleum products.
The warning came in a statement endorsed by Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of Trade Union Congress (TUC); Kotei Solomon, Industrial & Commercial Workers Union-Ghana; Albert Yamoah, Ghana Federation of Labour; Vida Sapabil, Coalition of Concerned Teachers; Kojo W. Krakani, CLOGSAG and Derrick Annan, Judicial Services Association of Ghana (JUSAG).
Others include Justice Yankson, Ghana Medical Association (GMA); M.V.V.K Demanya, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT); Kweku Asante-Krobea, Ghana Registered Nurses & Midwives Association (GRNMA) and Christian O. Odue, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT).
The Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) has increased electricity and water tariffs by 59.2 percent and 67.2 percent respectively.
Fuel prices at the pumps have also been increased by between 22 percent and 27 percent following the passage of the Energy Sector Levy (ESL) by Parliament in December 2015.
Workers are unhappy with the imposition of new taxes since the issue of the new tariff hikes, which is in court, is yet to be settled.
Organised Labour, in statement released yesterday, expressed grave disappointment in the manner in which Parliament went about the promulgation of the Energy Sector Levy Act, 2015 (Act 899).
It said the increases in tariffs, taxes and levies showed the insensitivity of the managers of the country’s economy.
However, the Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, said government would not reverse the increased utility tariffs and new taxes.
According to him, the increase in the prices of petroleum products was necessary to fix the erratic power supply that has bedevilled the country for about four years.
The Employment Minister made this known after a meeting with Organised Labour on Tuesday over the tariffs, which ended in a deadlock.
He said any attempt to reverse the increases would negatively affect government’s ability to fix the energy crisis.
The Minister explained that there is an outstanding debt of GH¢4.5 billion which needs to be settled, hence government’s decision to introduce the new Energy Sector Levy.
TUC, Gov’t Meeting
Organised Labour held a meeting with government on Tuesday after the increase in the prices of petroleum products.
According to sources, the Organised Labour asked for a reduction in the prices of the utility tariffs.
By Cephas Larbi