Friday, January 29, 2016

Govt, Organised Labour strike deal to reduce electricity tariffs

By Edmund Mingle
The government and Organised Labour yesterday reached a deal in which the recent 59.2 per cent hike in electricity tariff will be reduced to 45 per cent and 50 per cent for lifeline consumers and vulnerable groups.

The relief, provided by the government to cushion workers against the hikes, means that those who consume the between 0-50 units band would be affected by a 45 per cent, while those who consume between the 51-300 units band, would be affected by a 50 increase.

Haruna Iddrisu (at table head), reading the agreement to journalists
“Tariffs for all other consumption bands remain unchanged,” said a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties, at the end of the meeting at Flagstaff House in Accra.

The agreement, which was reached at the Joint Negotiation Committee meeting between the among the government, organized labour, Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), closed the talks over the organized labour’s demands for reduction in the tariff hikes.

However, the Committee said talks on water tariff which were also increased, continue among the stakeholders.

“As agreed in 2013, the stakeholders have renewed their commitment to the implementation of the Automatic Tariff Adjustment to avoid the large increases associated with non-implementation and its effect on incomes of households and businesses,” the MoU added.

It was signed by Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Kof Asamoah, Secretary General of the Trade Unions Congress, Mr. Terence Darko, President of GEA and Mr. James Asare-Adjei, President of AGI

In addition, the MoU which was read by Mr. Iddrisu and confirmed by Mr. Asamoah, indicated that the Electricity Company of Ghana has been asked to within two weeks rectify all billing anomalies associated with the utility tariff adjustment that took effect from December 14 this year.

Mr. Haruna, after reading the MoU, indicated that the parties were ready to continue to engage on the outstanding issue on water tariff, and thanked organised labour for the cooperation during the deliberations.
Mr. Asamoah, for his part, welcomed the reliefs provided by the government on the electricity tariff, and promised that his said would continue to engage the government for further deliberations of the outstanding issues.

Yesterday’s meeting, which was the fourth to be held, came after organised labour undertook a nationwide demonstration last week Wednesday to press home their demands.

Labour’s side initially demanded a withdrawal of the newly introduced Energy Sector Levy which had led to about 28 per cent increases in prices of petroleum products, as well as increases in utility tariffs which were increased by 59.2 per cent for electricity and 67.2 per cent for water.
However, the Labour side intensified their push for a 50 per cent salary increase for public sector workers, when government at the first meeting that indicated that a withdrawal of the levy was virtually impossible.

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