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Tariff Hikes: Govt, Labour In Crisis Meeting Next Tuesday   
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Chief of Staff Julius Debrah
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Government is considering accepting demands by Organised Labour for the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to reduce the new utility tariffs.

Consequently, Organised Labour, which comprises eight labour unions, will meet Chief of Staff Julius Debrah on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 to discuss the demand for reduction in recently announced utility tariffs.

According to information reaching The Finder newspaper, the decision was in response to a request from the Chief of Staff urging Organised Labour to be part of a working group to negotiate the demands of workers.

The Chief of Staff made the request in a letter dated Monday, December 21, 2015 and copied to the Secretary to the President, the Vice-President, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, among others.

New tariffs of 59.2% increase in electricity across board and 69.2% increase in water took effect Monday, December 14, 2015.  

Following the letter from the Chief of Staff, Organised Labour suspended the fixing of dates for demonstrations and strike.

In the letter, the Chief of Staff explained that the working group would comprise representatives of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Ghana Employers Association (GEA), Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Organised Labour, and other stakeholders.

According to the Chief of Staff, it has come to the notice of government that negotiations between PURC and Organised Labour have stalled.

And as a result, government decided to set up the working group, made up of key stakeholders, to address the deadlock.

Union leaders told The Finder that they suspended the fixing of dates for their demonstrations and strike in order to present their demands to the Chief of Staff and the working group.

They noted that if the outcome of the work of the working group did not result in reduction, they will resort to their planned actions.

Last Thursday and Friday, the General Council of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) unanimously voted to embark on demonstrations and ultimately declare a strike to press home their demands for a reduction in recently announced water and electricity tariffs.

 According to sources, if after the demonstrations the utility tariffs are not reduced, the eight labour unions will declare an indefinite strike to press home their demands.

Organised Labour has asked the PURC to suspend the implementation of any new tariff until there is some stability in the supply of power.

Despite this demand, the tariffs took effect on December 14, 2015.

A statement jointly issued two weeks ago and signed by leaders of eight labour organisations also asked the PURC to compel the utility companies to reduce their technical and operational inefficiencies as the condition for tariff review.

Organised Labour’s statement said its position was that the PURC should have first considered the availability and reliability of power before a review of tariffs.

The statement, dated December 9, 2015, was jointly signed by the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, and representatives of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG), and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT).

The statement said Ghanaian consumers were already paying heavily for the depreciation of the Ghana cedi and high inflation, and indicated that real wages had fallen drastically, especially since 2012.

The statement said following Organised Labour’s consultations with the PURC, it did not expect any increase in tariffs beyond 50% on condition that power supply would have stabilised.

Christian Council kicks against new tariffs

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) has reacted to the recent hikes in utility tariffs and urged government to ensure that the current energy crisis was addressed and service providers made to improve on service delivery before any such tariff increment.

According to the council, government should intervene in the situation and work at fixing the energy crisis before increasing electricity tariffs.

2013 Utility tariff reduction caused dumsor – PURC

The PURC has attributed the current power crisis to the reduction in tariffs in 2013.

Government in 2013 announced a reduction in electricity tariff by 25% after the PURC announced a 78.9% hike.
Source: The Finder/Ghana

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