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Energy sector levy won’t go despite Labour strikes – Govt

Government has appealed to Organised Labour to suspend its intended nationwide strike and demonstrations set to start on Wednesday 20 January 2016.

Labour is set to demonstrate and subsequently embark on an industrial strike in protest against the Energy Sector Levy, which has led to a 27 percent increase in the prices of petroleum products. But government has rejected demands to scrap the levy.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Monday, January 18, 2016, Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, appealed to Organised Labour to continue to dialogue with the government over the matter.

“We have a programme to meet on 21 January at the Flagstaff House to continue negotiations by which time the Ministers of Finance and Power would have [advised] government of some numbers of what the implications would be if prices were to be reviewed downwards by the PURC and the capacity of government to be able to absorb those downward reviews.

“However, at the same time, we are a democratic government. We recognise and respect the rights of workers to freedom of association, which includes the right to demonstrate and while I am appealing to them to abandon the path of demonstration and strike action, let me also assure that we will respect and uphold their right to freedom of association and freedom to demonstrate.

Mr Iddrisu, however, insists government will not change its position on the energy sector levy.

“But whatever it is, that will not change the government position on the energy sector levy. We need to assure the economy of some stability; we need to fix the energy crisis. We need to sustain the institutions of VRA and ECG in order that we continuously can produce crude to support our efforts to ensure consistency in the supply of power, to power industry and the economy, but we will once again appeal to Organised Labour to uphold the peace and harmony of this country.”

He said government appreciates the challenges of Ghanaians. “Let me add more importantly that we do appreciate what the consequence of these increases have been on the cost of living and in affecting the lives of many Ghanaians, particularly the unemployed and those, who are working, who are earning incomes that do not support them above a commitment, to deal with the poverty at that level. We appreciate it. But we need to get the economy on track so that tomorrow we can collectively share its benefit.”

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