The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) last Tuesday expressed reservation at the government’s refusal to engage workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) on severance packages in the event that the company’s concessionaire declares some of them redundant.
According to the union, although the process towards the implementation of the second Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC’s) compact was going on, the Ministry of Energy had always turned deaf ears to the workers’ demand for a discussion of the severance package or meet them for dialogue.
It explained that although it was not against the compact, it objected to the option of a concession as the model to turn the fortunes of the company around.
The Energy Minister, Mr Boagye Agyarko, at a press conference the following day, rebuffed the workers’ claims, saying their jobs were secure with the concessionaire for 20 years, under the re-negotiated Ghana Power Compact Two.
By that arrangement, therefore, the issue of severance package did not occur, since there would be no lay-offs, he added.
The Daily Graphic has followed the delicate issues so far and thinks that engagement and dialogue are the way forward.
Although the government maintains that the re-negotiated compact secures the jobs of current workers of the ECG over its 20-year period, there is still the need for the government to carry the workers along in order to ensure transparency and trust.
If for nothing at all, the state needs the buy-in of its citizens — on this occasion workers of the state power distributor — in sensitive projects and programmes such as the ECG concessionaire model.
Mistrust is a common enemy in this kind of situation where one party suspects the other in a matter as serious as bread and butter and, therefore, it should not be allowed to rear its ugly head.
In this case, while the government believes the $498 million investment expected from the US under the power compact will help revamp the energy sector — generation, transmission and distribution — the worker is, as is very reasonable, concerned about the sustainability of his daily bread.
In actual fact, the import of the Energy Compact, which comes under the Partnership for Growth (PfG) programme, is to accelerate and sustain broad-based economic growth through engagement with governments, the private sector and civil society.
However, the Daily Graphic thinks the workers at ECG should not behave like the proverbial child who cried wolf when there was none but found himself wanting when, on a particular occasion, a wolf appeared but everybody had by then given up on him.
If there are no real issues to be addressed, we urge the workers to support the government and the ministry to make progress with the power compact and move the country out of ‘darkness’ in the shortest possible time.