Nov. 1, 2013
Organised labour in Ghana has called a strike for 18 November to protest against increases in water and electricity tariffs that went into effect on 1 October saying the government has failed to listen to their demands to bring down the tariffs.
In a statement issued in Accra on Tuesday, the leaders of organised labour said on 18 November, “all workers in both the formal and informal sectors are requested to stay at home in protest against the astronomical increase in utility tariffs”.
The official independent regulator, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), approved 78.9 per cent and 52 per cent increases in electricity and water tariffs, respectively, but the Trades Union Congress (TUC) rejected the new tariffs and gave a 10-day ultimatum for their reduction to one-third or workers would embark on strike.
A Technical Working Group (TWG) on utility tariffs set up by the government to look at the increases and examine mitigating measures stated that a 50 per cent increase in the price of electricity was not sustainable because the revenue that would accrue from that increase would not be able to cover the production and transmission cost.
The TWG said its analysis indicated that in order to cover, at least the cost of generation and transmission, tariff adjustments above 60 per cent might be necessary, taking into consideration the need to minimise the negative budget implication.
However, organsised labour said at their meeting on Tuesday, they concluded that none of the scenarios presented in the TWG report addressed their concerns.
“We, therefore, have no option but to call on all the working people of Ghana, their families and the good people of Ghana to express their dissatisfaction about the failure on the part of Government to reduce utility tariffs to affordable levels.”
They called on labour groups in all the 10 regions to convene meetings to plan and stage demonstrations in all the regional capitals before 18 November.
“We call on all workers to participate fully in these actions in order to send a clear message to Government that Ghana is not for the few politicians who are making decisions and choices on our behalf and that we cannot tolerate such insensitive actions on the part of the so-called independent state institutions who are established to make decisions on our behalf,” the statement said.
Ghana is just emerging from a crippling electricity crisis during which power was rationed to consumers. The government has been inviting independent power producers to generate more electricity but they need a guaranteed price that will keep them in business.
Government has said it could not continue to subsidise utility tariffs to the detriment of development projects.