Organised Labour meets govt today over price increases

Organised labour, Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) will today meet the government over the upward adjustment in fuel prices, as well as water and electricity tariffs.

The announcement of increases in electricity and water tariffs to 59.2 per cent and 67.2 per cent respectively by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), took effect on December 14, 2015, while the 25 per cent fuel increases became effective yesterday.

The fuel increases were occasioned by the passage of the Energy Sector Levy, 2015 by Parliament last December.

The PURC explained that the utility tariffs were arrived at after careful investigations on the proposals submitted by the various utility providers to enable them have a clean balance sheet to be able to borrow from the financial market without recourse to the government to finance their operations.

The Public Relations and External Affairs Manager of the PURC stated that the utility providers had demanded 126 percentage increment for electricity and 400 percentage increment for water.

Public outcry
However, there was public outcry after the announcement and the subsequent implementation of the increases, although organised bodies such as the Trades Union

Congress and the National Peace Council asked the regulatory commission to hold on with the increases.

It is believed that today’s meeting will iron out issues relating to the increases and stay a possible strike action by workers to back their demands for a reduction in the utility price hikes.

Confirming today’s meeting between the government and organised labour to the media last year, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the government’s team was expected to dialogue with the Ghana Employers Association (GEA), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

‘Increases disgusting’
Reacting to increases in utility tariffs and fuel prices, Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said the increases in fuel prices and utility tariffs were not acceptable, particularly, at the time that incomes were still low.

He said no matter how well-intentioned the passage of the Energy Sector Levy, 2015 was, it was very difficult for labour to understand the rationale which served as the basis for the promulgation of the law now.

Mr Asamoah said organised labour and its social partners such as the GEA and AGI would certainly raise questions and impress on the authorities to reduce utility tariffs and fuel prices.

“These increases, coming at a time such as this, are disgusting. We cannot bear all these increases. We are not happy,” he added.

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