The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has threatened to use “every available means including mass demonstrations” to resist the implementation of the new electricity and water tariffs if the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) fails to review them downwards by tomorrow.
The TUC said the leadership of all the District Councils of Labour countrywide would meet in Accra today to strategise on the way forward to stop the tariff increases which came into effect on June 1.
Addressing a charged meeting of the leadership of the Accra District Council of Labour in Accra yesterday, the Acting Secretary General of the TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah said organised labour was taking the tariff increase seriously because of its negative effects on workers whose salaries have been increased only by 10 per cent as against the 89 and 46 per cent increments in electricity and water respectively.
“We are ready to resist these increases and we give them up to Friday. If we do not hear from them, they will hear from us,” he said.
Dr. Baah said the stance taken by the PURC and the government demonstrated their clear insensitivity to the plight of Ghanaians many of who live in abject poverty.
The TUC called on all well meaning Ghanaians to rise up against the increases.
He said the TUC was not satisfied with the explanation and the basis of the upward adjustments of the tariffs and stressed that it would be in the interest of government to impress on PURC to come out with a more realistic and affordable tariffs.
The Acting TUC boss said the PURC was basically set up by government to regulate the utility agencies and seek the best interest of the public.
“Unfortunately, PURC has failed to do what it was set up to do and rather turned round to do the opposite.
“If they have our interest at heart, then our simple position is that we cannot pay these unrealistic tariffs and they should therefore come out with more affordable ones. If we fail to resist these tariffs, the people of this country will be taken for granted,” he said.
Dr. Baah emphasized that the price for the government and PURC would be too expensive if they fail to listen to the workers of Ghana.
“PURC and the government cannot afford not to listen to us because if they do the cost will be too much for them and I don’t think government will sit down for that to happen because we shall definitely make the voices of the vulnerable be heard.”
He said “We demand of our leaders that decisions and policies they make on our behalf must reflect our interest and not against our interest. We are saying these increases are unrealistic and we cannot pay.”
Speaker after speaker at the meeting reiterated the need for the resistance of the tariffs and said they were going to galvanise support from the rank and file.
Later in a communiqué issued by the Accra District Labour Council and jointly signed by Mr. Seth Darko Dodoo and Henry Bahanim, Secretary and Chairperson respectively, the council called on the government to listen to the numerous appeals to it to reduce the tariffs in the interest of peace, social justice and harmonious industrial relations.
It expressed support for any action that the leadership of the TUC may take in its further deliberations with the PURC and the government on the issue at stake.
Commenting on the TUC’s stand, the Executive Secretary of the PURC, Mr. Stephen Adu, said no decision has been taken to review the tariffs downwards.
He said what the PURC was currently doing was to explain to the stakeholders, the reasons for the increments.
“Once we take a decision, what we do is to try to rationalise it by explaining to people,” he said.
A number of organisations have kicked against the introduction of the new utility tariffs since they were announced on May 31.
Among them were the Ghana Chamber of Mines, the Ghana Timber Millers Association, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), some political parties and the Consumer Protection Agency which has dragged the PURC to court to compel it to review the tariffs.
An Accra based legal practitioner, Kwame Boateng has also filed a writ at the Accra Fast Track High Court to restrain the PURC from implementing the new tariffs. The court is scheduled to hear the case tomorrow.