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General News Fri, 9 May 2003

We'll Not Succumb To Blackmail - VRA Mgt

THE management of the Volta River Authority (VRA) has stated that the business of the authority will be carried out in an efficient, cost-effective and productive manner.
It said the management will also ensure that the operations of this very major national asset shall not be subjected to blackmail or acts of indiscipline which work against the interest of the nation.
In letters addressed to the chairperson of the Senior Staff Association (SSA) and the chairman of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) and signed by the Chief Executive of the VRA, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby the management tasked the two bodies to take immediate steps to bring to order and discipline the conduct of the business of the SSA and the local branch of the PSWU.
It said on April 29, 2003, the management of the authority met the workers’ representatives for almost four hours and dealt extremely with the negotiations on remuneration for 2003 - 2004, and followed it with another briefing on the perilous state of the authority’s finances and its implications for the on-going negotiations.
The letter said the two meetings agreed to reconvene to deal with the remuneration issues.
It said management was rather surprised and perturbed that the executive of the Akosombo branches of the SSA and the PSWU convened a meeting last Friday, May 2, 2003, which resolved to embark on disruptive industrial action while the parties are in the middle of negotiations.
The letter noted that “you must understand that the resort to precipitous actions, when formal processes and procedures for industrial relations are still in progress, is difficult to rationalise and accept as fair and reasonable, and indeed whether it should be considered legitimate”.
According to the letter, management considers the actions taken by the staff groups as tantamount to a breach of good faith and deliberately provocative. It added that " under the circumstances and given the reported distortion of facts to colleagues in the authority, management has taken the unusual step of writing personally to every single member of staff to provide them with details of the full value of remuneration package that management has offered during the negotiations, adding that " the staff should at least be given the full facts so that they can form a true and proper judgement of what is available to them before they take the decision as to whether or not they should exercise their constitutional rights to withdraw labour."
It explained that management has proposed between 80 and 110 per cent salary adjustment for the workers, including allowances such as housing, pension and transport.
The letter made it clear that management will take every step to defend the integrity and the sense of responsibility of the authority in these very stringent economic times in the country. It added that “in doing so, we will make public to the people of Ghana the full facts of the salaries and conditions of service of VRA staff, so that they may judge as to whether or not management is being fair to its staff and its customers who are paying very high tariffs for our service”.
The letter urged the workers to consider the plight of ordinary workers who were given salary adjustment of between 20 and 28 per cent while tariffs went up by about 120 per cent in making demands on the economy.
On March 6 last year an impasse between Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby and the workers was resolved amicably.
The meeting was mediated by the authority’s sub-committee on Skill Compensation and Industrial Relations, chaired by Daasebre Dr Oti Boateng, and attended by the Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr Tahir Hammond and the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyepong.A statement issued at the time said with the amicable resolution of the impasse between the staff groups and the chief executive, there was hope that the spate of intense media reports about the affairs of the VRA would subside and the usual peaceful and cordial relations within the authority would be restored.

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Source: Graphic
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