Organized Labour, Govt Agree To Meet On Jan 26 Over Utility Hikes

The government and organised labour have made some progress towards reaching a common ground in their negotiations on workers’ demands over the upward adjustments in petroleum prices and utility tariffs.

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The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Idrissu, explained that that was after the government had agreed to provide a lifeline for the vulnerable, while organised labour also adjusted its earlier positions.

At a crunch meeting at the Flagstaff House yesterday, both parties agreed to meet on January 26 to bring finality to the negotiations to ensure industrial peace and harmony.

“I am happy to announce that we have made some progress and I am hopeful that in the early part of next week we will be able to reach a consensus with organised labour,” Mr Idrissu said.

The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, said the leadership would carry out further consultations with their members on the proposals put forward by the government.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Employment Minister had said he had forwarded the demands made by organised labour to the President.

However, he made it clear that current economic conditions made it difficult for the government to meet those demands.

Finance Minister
The Finance Minister, Mr Seth Terkper, who was at the meeting, took the labour leaders through the prevailing economic position of the country.

He explained to them the need for the introduction of the tariffs to instill sanity in the economy and also address the power crisis.

Background
Thousands of Ghanaian workers across the country last Wednesday poured onto the streets to demonstrate against the recent hikes in fuel and utility prices.

They wanted the government to withdraw the recently introduced Energy Sector Levies Act, which has led to a 28 per cent increase in the prices of petroleum products.

Besides, the workers wanted water and electricity tariffs, which have witnessed over 50 per cent increases, to be reduced drastically.

Deadlock
Two earlier meetings held between the government negotiating team and organised labour ended in deadlock, leading to the demonstration.

Labour threatened to follow a road map that would lead to a strike.

However, after yesterday’s meeting, Mr Asamoah said they would hold their fire until next week when they hoped to put an end to the disagreement.

However, he told journalists: “We will cross the bridge when nothing positive comes out of the final meeting.”

Source: Daily Graphic

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