President Akufo-Addo has assured workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) that he would not do anything that would vary their existing conditions of service.
The assurance was given when leadership of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called on him at the Flagstaff House to express concern over the proposed concession which would see the government of Ghana cede 80 percent of its shares in the company to the private sector to benefit from a cash injection of about $1 billion over a period of five years.
Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States signed the second compact worth $498 million in October 2016 to improve the performance of the power sector.
Workers of the power distribution company have become jittery after the government’s initiation of the process.
Speaking at the presidency, Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, claimed, “Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) has sidelined the Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU) and is trying very hard to use the back door to engage ECG workers directly.”
That, he said, was the main reason why the union had gone to court to place an injunction on the concession process, and urged the president to intervene to ensure that the union is properly engaged to ensure that the country benefits from the compact.
But briefing the media after a meeting behind closed doors, Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, said that the president had assured Organized Labour that “no worker is going to lose his or her position because of the concession.”
According to the minister, “He was ready to guarantee all workers of ECG a smooth transfer or a continuation of their service even into the concession; today he has reaffirmed that position and has asked that he is willing to sit down with labour to give them every assurance that they want.”
To that end, he noted, “He has tasked me and my colleague at the Ministry of Energy to work hand-in-hand with the local unions and their mother union…to make sure that at least, we resolve all the issues involved and make sure that the concession continues.”
President Akufo-Addo on May 1 (Workers’ Day) this year indicated that it was his wish to see more Ghanaian participation in the concession, not less than 50%.
Dr Yaw Baah also raised concern about government’s search for transaction advisor for the sale of specified thermal plants owned by the Volta River Authority (VRA).
“These assets are so crucial for our industrial development and for the achievement of your vision for Ghana that was outlined in your first budget statement earlier this year.”
He said with emphasis, “We do not support the privatization of such important national assets. We believe that the VRA is more than capable of managing these plants efficiently and effectively.” The government has since indicated its preparedness to dialogue on the issues.
Organised labour equally stressed the urgent need for radical reforms at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), with a proposal for government to constitute a stakeholders’ committee and get external experts to evaluate SSNIT’s operations, at least once every four years.
Dr Yaw Baah also wanted the positions of Director-General, Deputy Directors-General and senior management staff of SSNIT to be appointed by the board or nominated by the board for appointment by the president.
Another proposal was for the board to be expanded to include at least two more representatives of workers and employers and appoint two vice chairpersons – one workers’ representative and the other employers’ representative.