UTILITY PROVIDERS MEET TUC STEERING COMMITTEE ON PROPOSED TARIFF INCREASES.
The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) facilitated National Stakeholder and Public consultations on proposed increases in utility tariffs by the service providers took place Wednesday 12th June, 2013, at the Hall of Trade Unions, in Accra.
The consultations which started since Tuesday 4th June 2013 have already taken place between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Consumer Association of Ghana and the Parliamentary Select Committees on Finance and Utilities to name but a few. The former Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Moses Asaga, who is also the Chairperson of the PURC Technical Committee, pointed out that other organizations yet to be consulted on the proposed increases are the Political Parties, Policy Think Tanks, Pressure Groups and the Media, among others.
Co-chairing the meeting with TUC’s (GHANA) Chairperson, Sister Georgina Opoku Amankwa, Mr. Asaga said the utility providers – Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) were hoping that the proposed hikes which altogether add up to 166% if approved, may take effect between August and September 2013.
Explaining the rationale for the consultations, the Executive Secretary of the PURC, Mr. Samuel Sarpong said they needed to have stakeholders and all Ghanaians for that matter, understand the proposals by the utility providers and help the PURC determine what decision to come to. After presenting their case and giving reasons why they needed to have those increases, the utility companies met with some resistance from members of the TUC (Ghana) Steering Committee who questioned the justification of the tariff increases. Reiterating the point, the Secretary General, Brother Kofi Asamoah who thanked the PURC on behalf of the TUC said “we’ve listened to the PURC but as working people, you know there is a limit to which we can endure.”
TUC GHANA ENCOUNTERS GJA AT THEIR ANNUAL END-OF-YEAR GET –TO-TOGETHER
“Ghana’s economy has been acclaimed to be doing well in the last few decades. The economy continues to register impressive growth rates and last year, our economy registered one of the highest GDP growths in the world. On the basis of these economic growth statistics, Ghana has officially been designated as a lower middle income country. Despite these impressive growth statistics, many Ghanaians are increasingly feeling marginalized.”
These formed part of the address delivered by the Secretary General (SG) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC-Ghana), Brother Kofi Asamoah at the TUC/GJA 2012 End of year annual Media Interaction programme at the International Press Centre in Accra.
Brother Asamoah lamented the fact that many young people who have been encouraged and who together with their parents invested time and limited resources in education are not getting the jobs that match their skills. He blamed the problem on bad policies, specifically, a national economic policy framework, based on the Washington Consensus, that actually been the bane of the economy.
The policy according to the SG said has been based on managing inflation and growing the economy anyhow regardless of whether the growth created jobs or not. This in the view of the TUC is bad for employment creation. Solving the unemployment problem however must begin with changing the economic paradigm that Ghana has implemented for the past 30 years. This is for the simple reason that the last 30 years of jobless growth provides powerful testimony of how inflation management and the blind pursuit of growth do not create jobs.
Brother Kofi Asamoah also gave the perspectives of the TUC on many other government policies, events and activities that had taken place during the year under review.
Welcoming members of the TUC and the GJA to the Centre, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association GJA, Brother Ransford Tetteh, said the days’ programme was the 16th edition of the TUC/GJA End of year media interaction and that showed a strong relationship and the need for it.
He encouraged the traditional unions to make themselves more appealing than they already are in order to see their numbers increase. Brother Tetteh said he was not sure what would happen to Media Houses whose members of staff are already members of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) of the TUC as to whether they would need to leave the PSWU or stay when the Ghana Journalist Association becomes a fully-fledged union.
His fears were however allayed by the Secretary General who said that all those fine details would be neatly ironed out in time for the Ghana Journalist Association before it assumes its union status.
Present at the programme were the Chairman of the TUC, Sister Georgina Opoku Amankwa who chaired the function. Also present were the 1st Vice Chairman, Brother Nyame-Yeboah, Deputy Secretary General, Dr. A. Yaw Baah, some General Secretaries of TUCs’ affiliate Unions and their National Executives Committee members. GJA leadership present included the Vice President, Affail Monney and the General Secretary Bright Blewu.
DOMESTIC WORKERS SENSITIZED ON ILO CONVENTION 189
The Trades Union Congress (Ghana), TUC, with support from the LOFTF “Decent Employment in West Africa” project; “Bridging Phase” has held a day’s Domestic Workers’ (DW) meeting to sensitize domestic workers on ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201.
Two other objectives of the meeting were to empower domestic workers on organizing and forming a trade union as well as develop future activities. The activities were said to include Strategies for domestic workers to get recognition through self-organization, look at experiences of their employers and existing Policies and Laws in Ghana.
The programme which took place at the National Labour College in Accra was put together by the Organization Department of the TUC and coordinated by the Domestic Workers Focal Person, Cynthia Ananoo. It brought together thirty participants, twenty Seven of whom were domestic workers with various levels of experiences.
Welcoming them, the Head of TUC’s Organization Dept., Tobge Adom Drayi II explained that the workshop besides sensitizing Domestic Workers on the ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 was to have them come together to form a union. That, he was sure would give them the desired recognition.
He further explained that TUC Ghana which represents all workers including domestic workers exists to strengthen the efforts of its affiliate Unions in the field of organization, education and support their struggles to improve working and living conditions.
Participants shared obvious challenges some of which included working more hours without overtime or payment for health care, rest days or fixed working hours and receiving the same salaries for years without enjoying any increments.
Concerning that point, one participant opined that “I have worked for my employer for 22years but have been receiving Ghc150.00 for so long without increment. I stay in the house and eat breakfast every day.”
It was however observed from the discussions that their conditions differ, while some enjoy a day or two rests, others are not entitled to anything. There were yet others whose health insurance are paid by their employers and taken care of when ill. There are also situations where the worker stays in the house of the employer while others just come in as and when, to do gardening, washing or cooking.
The meeting agreed that for the domestic workers to be able to access their rights and be protected by the law, they must organize themselves into a union. The peculiarity for some though, was that any attempt to join or form a union will see them getting the sack; nevertheless they were willing to persist.
At her turn, Celestina Tetteth from the Ghana Labour Office congratulated Domestic Workers (DW) as special workers in relation to how the whole world body of ILO Conference in June demonstrated support for Convention 189 on Decent on Work for Domestic Workers.
This Convention, she said, has tasked all governments to come out with laws to protect DW. “Even though one can say that the Ghana Labour Act 651 of 2003 protects workers in the informal sector and gives some protection to Domestic Workers as well; the Act in terms of the definition of Domestic workers, is not adequate.”
The need for the formation of a National Policy on Decent Work Taskforce which includes Domestic Workers, Employer Associations, and Trade Unions by Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare therefore became paramount. The task force was tasked to come out with policy guidelines to be formulated into law and is currently under pressure from parliament to expedite action on the work to facilitate parliamentary approval for the ratification of ILO Convention 189.
EJN Calls for Political Debate on Agrarian Transformation
Date: 16th October 2012
As part of its contribution to issues-based campaigns towards the December polls, and today being World Food Day, the Economic Justice Network (EJN) is pleased to bring to the fore of our political debate the issues of agriculture and rural transformation through its second lecture in the series christened ‘Agriculture and rural development, the latent wealth of the savannah’ in Tamale. The EJN is of the view that transforming agriculture and tackling the production and marketing constraints of small scale farmers, men and women, in rural Ghana, where all the problems of poverty are sharply experienced should be one of the topical issues as the country heads towards the December polls.
The Economic Justice Network (EJN), a national platform of civil society organisations devoted to equitable national economic development, is made up of trade unions, farmers’ organisations, associations from industry and services, women’s rights and equality organisations, faith-based organisations and non-governmental organizations.
Talking on rural transformation and agriculture, Tetteh Hormeku of the Third World Network-Africa is of the view that ‘the gap between the contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and scale of employment is due to the fact that most of the output is produced by small holder farmers on family operated farms using rudimentary technology. The situation these rural small-holder farmers who form the bulk of the rural population, and their marginalisation in terms of investment, finance, rural infrastructure, constitute the basic conditions of poverty experienced by Ghana’s majority. By the same token, the challenge of addressing poverty is a challenge of the transformation of the conditions of production and life in rural agriculture’.Impressive views were expressed by farmers. ‘Farmers and producers are interested in a comprehensive approach to the issue of agriculture in Ghana. We are interested in irrigation dams, farm inputs and factories that can absorb the produce from us. Ghana cannot continue to import food when we can produce the same here if the needed political light is turned on it’, Mohammed Nashiru, the President of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, stated.
At this stage of our development, the EJN is calling for policies that link agriculture and industry. Unless there is value addition to agricultural produce and the production constraints tackled purposefully by the Government, food self sufficiency will continue to elude Ghanaians. The EJN therefore hopes that the issues on agrarian transformation will equally take centre stage on the political debates as the Country heads towards the December polls.
For further clarification contact: Ibrahim Akalbila, 0244635699; Sylvester Bagooro; 0269613132
Released BY ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA
GHANA TUC IN ANOTHER QUADRENNIAL
The highest decision-making body in the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) structure, the “Quadrennial Delegates Congress “ended its 9th session at the ‘Great Hall’ of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, August 11th – 16th, 2012.
The just ended Congress was special for many reasons, one being that the theme “Organising for Empowerment, Employment Security and Increased Productivity,” touched on a fundamental pillar of trade unionism. It was also special since for the first time in the history of the Ghana TUC, the main Congress was preceded by Youth and Women Congresses.
To cap it all, this 9th Quadrennial Congress with many specials also for the first time in its history, elected a woman, Georgina Opoku Amankwa as the Chairperson. This is unprecedented since the organization has come a long way from its old motto “United Brotherhood of Workers by Hand and by Brain all over Ghana,” appropriately changed to “United Family of Workers by Hand and by Brain all over Ghana”
Both the maiden Women and Youth Congresses went through the rigours of reviewing Ghana TUC’s existing policies on Women and Youth as well as Constitutional provisions covering them. They also elected their National Leaders for the next Quadrennial.
The women retained their national leaders with Chairperson, Christie Karl Oparebea; Vice-chairperson, Alfreda Kobiaba Ogoe; Secretary, Teresa Nadia Abugah and Assistant Secretary, Judith Yewenao for the next Quadrennial.
Youth leaders elected were Chairperson, Abdul Mumin Gbana; 1st Vice Chairperson, Alhassan Adams; 2nd Vice Chairperson, Margaret Darko; Secretary, Freda S. Frimpong; Assistant Secretary, Bashiratu Kamal and Youth Organiser, Ike Yaotey Ako Jnr.
The Youth Congress had the theme “Organising Young Workers for Empowerment, Employment Security and Increased Productivity” and the theme for the Women’s Congress was “Organising Women for Empowerment, Employment Security and Increased Productivity.”
Work by the various Commissions of Congress started much earlier having received inputs on policy review or changes from the National Unions and other TUC’s structures. The policy areas covered Organising, Solidarity and Mergers; Gender Equality and Youth as well as Informal Economy and Child Labour. Others were Social Labour Relations, Social Dialogue and Social Protection among others.
That advance preparation was done for the main business of Congress. After the official opening, Congress Committees on Credentials, Standing Orders, Resolutions, Constitution and Elections took over for the main business.
The main congress climaxed with the election of officers for the next quadrennial. The 1st Vice Chairperson, Brother Stephen Nyame Yeboah; 2nd Vice Chairperson, Naomi Deede Otoo; Secretary General, Kofi Asamoah and Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Yaw A. Baah were all retained, whilst Georgina Opoku Amankwa was elected unopposed as the first woman to occupy the Chair of the TUC. The office of the 1st Vice Chair saw a contest by Antwi Boasiako of UNICOF who lost to the incumbent.
Addressing Congress in session, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur, made the august gathering aware that he was reading the prepared speech of former President, John Evans Atta Mills in whose stead he was attending. He then asked that a minutes’ silence be held for the departed soul of President J. E. A. Mills.
He announced the establishment of a Labour Market Information System that will assist in the collection of credible Labour Statistics and the construction of a modern state-of-the-art Labour Office Complex. These he said were promised by Prof. J. E. A. Mills during his speech at the last May Day celebration in Sunyani and work on them would be expedited. He expressed gratitude for the honour of declaring the Congress formally opened.
The Secretary General of the Ghana TUC, Kofi Asamoah enumerated the many challenges that working people and Ghanaians continue to face inspite of the many promises by Politicians to have them resolved. He urged the current government to expedite action on the many promises made on election platforms to give respite to the working people and indeed all Ghanaians.
The many fraternal messages included those from the Congress of South Africa Trade Union (COSATU); Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland, SASK.; Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Rosa Luxemberg Foundation of Germany. Others were the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL); Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Ghana Employers Association among many others.