Engage Us, Utility Workers Call On Government

The Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on Government to engage the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) on their severance packages in the ECG concession effort.

Addressing the press after picketing at the TUC Mr Michael Adumatta Nyantakyi, General Secretary of the PUWU, said though the process towards the implementation of the compact is proceeding and with all intents and purposes, it is apparent that the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) are not giving due attention to the concerns expressed by staff of the ECG.

He said the MoE has not provided the appropriate forum to discuss with the union on the issues affecting the staff under the proposed Private Sector Participation (PSP).

“The National Union is disappointed with the failure by government to adequately engage labour on the ECG concession, this was a promise made by the president during his campaign in 2016.

“The high expectation of labour and particularly PUWU has not been met and the level of social dialogue particularly with labour, demonstrated so far by the present government on the PSP issue is very poor”, he said.

Mr Nyantakyi said the National Union in June 2017 wrote to the MoE, MiDA, among others after a Divisional Executive Committee meeting on the ECG senior and Junior Staff Union, conveying the request of staff for the payment of a severance package as a result of the planned PSP.

He said the MoE has failed and or refused to meet with the PUWU to discuss the necessary measures to be adopted to advert or minimize the effects of the planned restructuring.

Mr Nyantakyi said the Labour Law stipulates that where an agreement or amalgamation causes “severances of the legal relationship of workers and employers as it existed immediately before the close down, arrangement of amalgamations” adding “the worker are entitled to be paid by the employer, compensation, referred to as “redundancy pay”.

He said the MoE in a letter dated 30th May, 2017 to COSECA (a coalition of stakeholders) indicated that there will be series of meetings with staffs to explain the “Grandfathering”.

There has not yet been a single meeting arranged to date with PUWU, has register their reservation at the refusal of the Minister of Energy to come clean on the concept of ‘Grandfathering’ and the issue of severance payment, Mr Nyantakyi said.

He said in the absence of any engagement with the PUWU, members were led to only one conclusion that government intends to railroad the concession arrangement without due regard to the interests of the workers of ECG, adding that, “PUWU would use all legitimate means to protect and defend the interest of the workers of ECG.”

The General Secretary said the PUWU were not against the compact in principle, but strongly objected to the option of a conception as the model of PSP for ECG.

“We have consistently maintained that the solutions to the challenges facing ECG are within the domain of government and it is a lazy and indisciplined approach to think that it is only through PSP that ECG can be turned around.

“The failure of successive government to appoint competent and dynamic leadership who will be given the free hand to operate has been one of the major obstacles to the progress of the company.”

He said the PUWU was surprised that policy makers do not consider the distribution business of energy as one key sector that can be turned around easily to bring in more revenue to the state.

Mr Nyantakyi said government was only committed to ensuring that vital state assets are handed over to the private sector to make more money and government only benefits from taxes.

“It is a pity that 60 years after our independence, we are still portraying ourselves as a nation that cannot manage its natural resources for the benefit of its citizenry.”