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Labour Front Broken Over Utility Tariffs   
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Kofi Asamoah, TUC General Secretary
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The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the Tema District Council of Labour have accused the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of agreeing to the 25 per cent downward review of electricity tariff without recourse to them.

They have also faulted the TUC for calling off the November 18 strike agreed on by organised labour in the country without first consulting them.

Whereas the ICU indicated that they still stood by the November 18 industrial action agreed by organised labour and would, therefore, go ahead with the strike despite the call off by Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the TUC, the Tema District Council of Labour said it dissociated itself from the 25 per cent review.

Expressing his anger at the decision to call off the strike and agreement to a 25 per cent reduction on an Accra-based radio station yesterday, a representative of the ICU said, the group felt peeved that the TUC, which had been its mouthpiece in negotiations over the recent tariff hikes, had not consulted them before calling off the strike.

The ICU, which claimed it had the largest membership of organised labour, said for instance a committee should have been put in place to monitor government’s commitment towards its pledge of paying about GH˘400 million to make up for the shortfall as a result of the reduction in the earlier tariff.

Dr Frank Serebour, General Secretary of the GMA said “We were also not consulted and we felt that maybe it is because we were at a conference in Sunyani and so the others have been consulted, but if all the other groups are saying they were not consulted then it is very unfortunate.”

He said the GMA expected that after the discussions, the TUC would go back to the other groups to inform them so they would all consider whether or not to accept the reduction and if they should continue with the strike or not.

“But in this case, it appears that the TUC had a discussion and took a decision to call off the strike even though they were aware that there were other labour unions that were involved,” Dr Serebour said.

At an emergency meeting held by the Tema District Council of Labour of the TUC, some of the members said they had dissociated themselves “from that 25 per cent reduction.”

A spokesperson said it was their demand for a 60 per cent reduction in the tariff that necessitated the call for a strike and did not understand why the TUC had to settle for less without consulting them.

However, neither the TUC’s Secretary General, Mr Kofi Asamoah, nor his deputy was willing to speak when contacted on the stance taken by the three groups but asked them to put in formal complaints.

Mr Kofi Asare Asiamah, Chairman of the Ashanti Region TUC said “when the news came that they are calling off the planned demonstration and all the planned action, we thought it was a collective decision. It is unfortunate that some of the unions have actually not been consulted or will not agree to that.”

We thought that they had actually put in the best for the country so it’s quite disturbing hearing that some of the unions were not really consulted. This is not a good news,” he added.

He nonetheless stated that he understood the Tema union’s frustration because most of them were affected immensely by the increased tariffs.

Mr Asiamah called for an emergency meeting to iron out the differences between the TUC and the other unions, saying all the unions in Kumasi were going ahead to organise a meeting today to discuss the recent developments.
Source: Daily Graphic

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