Business News of Wednesday, 4 October 2017
The Public Utilities Workers Union’s (PUWU) agitations over the privatization of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and its demand for severance packages, have found their way to the High Court.
PUWU has sued ECG, the Attorney-General and the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), over the dispute on the need for the payment of redundancy package to ECG workers.
PUWU had started agitations in this regard in September, due to fears that workers will lose their jobs following the Power Compact signed with the United States of America under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Power Compact II programme.
The lawsuit has one other plaintiff, one Benedict Kanose, an employee of the ECG.
PUWU in a writ filed at the Accra High Court argued that the decision to cede ECG to a concessionaire constituted a severance of the ECG workers’ employment.
It contended that discussions that went into negotiations for the sale of ECG did not factor the declaration of redundancy, despite the content of Section 65 of the Labour Act, 2005 (Act 651).
The section indicates that, where “an arrangement or amalgamation causes severance of the legal relationship of a worker and employer as it existed immediately before the close down, arrangement or amalgamation; and as a result of and in addition to the severance that worker becomes unemployed or suffers any diminution in the terms and conditions of employment, the worker is entitled to be paid by the undertaking at which that worker was immediately employed prior to the close down, arrangement or amalgamation, compensation, in this section referred to as redundancy pay.”
Thus PUWU is seeking a declaration that “the purported ‘grandfathering, ie, sending workers of ECG including plaintiffs [PUWU members] on permanent transfer without paying a redundancy pay of the 1st defendant’s [Benedict Kanose] employees including plaintiffs which the minister [Boakye Agyarko] declared to be the government’s approach… will sever the employment relationship between plaintiffs and ECG,” the writ said.
They are also seeking an order directed at the defendants to “comply with the provisions of Act 651, and go through the proper redundancy process as laid down in Ghana’s laws and pay plaintiffs redundancy pay (severance package) in accordance with the stipulation of the law.”
They also want an injunction to halt the Compact between Ghana and the MCC. The Ghana Power Compact will provide Ghana with a grant of US$498,200,000 to improve the performance of the power sector.
About US$350 million of the grant is being invested in ECG to make the country’s power distributor operationally and financially more efficient.