Minority Urges Dialogue

…Over ECG Workers Grievance

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has charged the government to demonstrate transparency and enter dialogue with aggrieved workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

According to the minority, the court action by the workers could have been prevented if the government had opened up on issues and entered onto negotiation with the workers to solve parts of their grievances, if not all, in the forgoing development in the sale of the company.

The minority stance followed some energy experts’ warning of the possibility that the country could lose out on the $400 million Millennium Challenge Compact-2 Fund if a court case brought against government by the workers drags.

The Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU), which filed the suit, is demanding a redundancy package because of the possibility of a retrenchment exercise, which they believe will affect them once the company is privatized.

But the government, through the energy ministry, rejected the demands of the aggrieved workers, describing it as premature.

Mr. Boakye Agyarko, Minister of Energy, in a press briefing, said any such payments will only be made for workers who voluntarily decide to sever their relationship with the company after the takeover.

But the coalition of stakeholders on the ECG concession arrangement says government must explore an out-of-court settlement with the aggrieved staff or risk losing the compact.

However, the minority’s spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Adams Mutawakilu, told journalists in parliament yesterday that the minority is not impressed with the way government is handling the issue.

He said, at the moment, per the ECG concession arrangement,it was better government explored an out-of-court settlement with the aggrieved staff or risk losing the compact

“We feel that when engagement is properly done, we should not be going through these issues at this stage of the concession. We believe that proper engagement was not done by the Ministry of Energy and the workers currently do not know what is at stake for them, and that is why they are resorting to court action,” he said.

Hon. Mutawakilu, who is the Member of Parliament for Damongo, noted that, if proper coordination, deliberation and dialogue had been done and the workers knew their position as far as the concession is concerned, some of these issues, especially the  court  action, would have been prevented.

“It is better for them to know their position because assurance at this stage is not enough, it should be backed by documentation so that if anything happens, they have a reference point to seek legal redress,” the minority spokesperson on energy added.

He expressed the fear that things could get complicated if the court suit was allowed to continue, stressing that, as things look, the aggrieved workers might only withdraw the suit if government calls them back to the negotiation table for amicable solution.

Mr. Mutawakilu noted that if the government had listened to the workers and agreed to their requests, they would not have gone to court in the first place, saying “If they were transparent with them things wouldn’t have been complicated.”

He said the government was adamant, selfish and not ready to listen to the workers and the court is the last resort.



Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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