Organised Labour has decided to go ahead with its planned two-day nationwide demonstration following government’s refusal to reduce what they describe as an “astronomical” increase in taxes and utility tariffs.
This nationwide demonstration which is expected to be held on January 19 and 20 will be followed by a nationwide strike on January 21 and 22.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in December 2015, increased electricity and water tariffs by 59.2 percent and 67.2 percent respectively.
Government further slapped a number of taxes on petroleum products which increased petrol price by 27% and diesel by 18% this month [January].
Speaking on the development on Citi Eyewitness News, the President of the Ghana federation of Labour, Abraham Koomson, revealed organised labour had put forth their demands and concerns with the new hikes to Government.
They demanded the hikes in the water and electricity tariffs be reduced to a 50% increase along with a complete scrap of the new petroleum tax hikes.
Government however did not meet their demands by refusing to do away with the petroleum levies whilst only offering to reduce the hikes in tariffs by about 5% to a 54% increase in water and electricity tariffs.
According to Mr Koomson, Government argued a compromise beyond what they had offered would distort their projections for economic recovery.
Commenting on the meeting which took place yesterday [Thursday], Mr Koomson said : “The meeting today was not conclusive because we were demanding for the total withdrawal for the levies on the petroleum and they were insisting, if they do that it will also distort their projections for the economic recovery.”
The negotiations, according to Mr Koomson, have thus been adjourned to next week Thursday, January 21.
“The meeting could not conclude on these three issues and it has been adjourned to next week Thursday for continuation,” he said.
Mr Koomson indicated the decisions by government not to consider their demands pertaining to the petroleum levy was a major reason why the meeting ended in a deadlock.
“The most important issue which was disturbing is the petroleum levy,” he said. “The petroleum is more damaging, it’s more destructive especially for those of us who operate in the manufacturing industry…”
He added, organised labour had also requested from government some form of justification for the impositions of the new petroleum levies but government rejected their request saying they would get the Petroleum and Energy Minister, Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, to explain issues such as to what the levies were going to be used for at the next bout of negotiations.
Mr Koomson recounted, “… tell us exactly where these monies are going and how they have been applied. They said then they will need the energy minister to come next week to come and explain things to us.”
Mr Koomson further revealed Organised Labour will be holding a press conference this afternoon where they hope to divulge more information on their next course of action following Government’s decision not to meet their demands.