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General News Fri, 2 Sep 2016

Fate of ECG workers uncertain - Austin Gamey

Labour consultant, Mr Austin Gamey has attributed the impasse at the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to the lack of transparency in government’s decision to cede the company to a private investor.

According to him, the workers have no assurance or proper guarantee of keeping their jobs.

“The future of the workers is unknown to them; there is an element of fear of the unknown; when the new owners take over, the workers are not sure of keeping their jobs,” he said.

Mr Gamey called for a further probing into the job security of workers of the company and appealed to the parties to do away with the ‘dirty politics’ and appoint an impartial arbitrator.

“If we can put aside the dirty politics and allow somebody with the knowledge and the skill of facilitating such a meeting, the matter can be resolved within three hours,” he said.

Mr Gamey insists that the matter shouldn’t have been allowed to fester, adding that “we must seek an urgent resolution of the matter and it can be done.”

Workers of the company have for the past few weeks been courting public support against the concession.

Last week, staff of the company embarked on a three-day sit-down strike across the country, saying they will persist until the citizenry joins them in the fight.

They say the proposed deal amounts to selling the company at the expense of their jobs and attendant bad impact on consumers. Per the terms of the concession, workers of ECG will have their jobs secured for five years after which their future is uncertain.

Head of Policy at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Ishmael Ackah bemoaned the manner in which the concession had been rushed. He expressed concern over the fact that the workers’ jobs could only be guaranteed for 5 years.

According to Dr Ackah, the terms of the concession should be predictable since “the private investor is here to make profit and recoup his investment.”

“Nobody knows what will happen after the five years; one of the main ways of making profit is to cut down on operational costs and labour can be a target so the concerns of ECG workers as regards the security of their jobs should be addressed,” Dr Ackah added.

He called on government to engage workers of the company, not its management “because all the noise we are hearing is from the workers, not the management,” and factor in the grievances of the workers.

Other labour experts told Business Finder that there are multiple facets to happenings at the company which ought to be considered before a case for a concession is made.

Government currently owes the ECG a ‘legacy debt’ of GH¢728 million. Finance Minister recently revealed government’s plans to spread the payment over the next five years.

Owing to the difficulty by the government to pay for the power consumed by institutions, including ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs), schools, hospitals and some SOEs, the ECG is highly indebted to GRIDCo, the country’s only power transmission operator, which also owes the VRA, the main power generator, and other independent power producers.
Source: The Finder
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