General News of Saturday, 2 November 2013
Abdul Kweku Baako says he has been won over by the "responsible" and "matured" steps taken by the TUC to pressurize government over high utility tariff which will culminate in a 18th November nationwide strike.
Patting the country's umbrella of labour unions on the back, the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper says Trades Union Congress (TUC) has acted within the rule of law in the steps it has taken in opposing a combined utility tariff increment of 130%.
Since October 1st, tariffs on electricity and water have gone up by 78% and 52% respectively.
He noted that the TUC strategy in being flexible, holding talks and operating within the rule of law has defused any potential for agitations to become explosive.
Government business stands the risk of a shutdown as Organised labour, on Tuesday, declared its intentions to embark on a nationwide strike on Monday, November 18, 2013 to demonstrate its seriousness in demanding a reduction in tariff increases.
It had earlier on backtracked on a 10-day ultimatum issued on 8th October 2013 to strike if government and Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) does not slash tariffs to one-third and stagger the rest over a two year period. TUC explained that it was giving sometime to the Technical Working Group set up by President John Mahama to examine their concerns, vis-a-vis the sustainability of providing utility services.
The report is out. It states that a minimum of 60% increase is ideal for power sustainability and for business, but an unimpressed TUC has revived its intentions - a nationwide strike.
Their statement to do so was signed by representatives of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), the Polytechnic Administrators Association of Ghana (PAAG), the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) and the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSSAG).
The group called on workers in the formal and the informal sectors to stay at home on November 18 to express their dissatisfaction with the failure of the government to reduce the tariffs. Before the ultimate nationwide strike, the group wants other labour unions to convene meetings mobilize and strategize for regional demonstrations in all regional capitals.
Meanwhile TUC and PURC are engaged in talks even as a national day of strike looms.
Speaking on Multi TV and Joy FM's Newsfile, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako noted that "having dialogue while flexing muscles are not mutually exclusive".
He commended the TUC saying "you are dealing with matured, responsible" group that has shown it does not want the situation to escalate.
He noted the TUC has at every point in its struggle with government, provided a solution in a form of a road map in dealing with the problem.
It shows, they are not just talking, Baako said.
The Editor-In-Chief advised government to take advantage of the 16 days before the strike to do "serious business."
He was optimistic that the way government and labour has been engaging each other, he had "implicit faith" that this struggle will be resolved.