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Reduce tariffs – Labour urges government

The Trades’ Union Congress (TUC) has welcomed President John Mahama’s promise to workers to improve their finances in 2017.

Mr Mahama made the promise in the Brong Ahafo Region as part of his Accounting to the People tour ahead of the annual May Day celebration which falls on Sunday May 1.

In an interview, Deputy Secretary of the Trades Union Congress Anthony Yaw Baah said workers in the country were still grappling with various economic challenges.

“Of course Ghanaians are suffering. The cost of living now after utility tariff increases is unbearable to many Ghanaians and, so, if the president has recognised that and they are going to try to address that issue, then we welcome that very much, and we are going to work with government to make sure we reduce the burden on Ghanaian workers especially and the people of Ghana in general,” he stated.

He said although the country had made some progress economically, there was still a lot more to be done.

The TUC Secretary continued: “I have heard it over and over again and there is no doubt that Ghana has made some progress. I was in secondary school in the ’80s and the conditions then and the conditions now are definitely different and those of us who are old enough to have gone through that situation know that Ghana is no longer in that and so we have made some progress. But we still have a lot to do because comparing where we are with our potential as Ghanaians, I think we can do a lot more, and if the president wants to lead us away from this situation into a more prosperous Ghana, we can only support it.”

He noted that hikes in utility tariffs, especially for water, was frustrating workers.

“…Speaking to our members in forums and meetings, we see the biting effect of these utility tariffs and I think it is key, especially water. When we got some release for reduction on electricity, we didn’t get much for water and we expect that going forward, government will see the need to bring this water [tariff] down or do some subsidy so that people will not feel this burden as they are feeling it now,” said Mr Baah.

Utility tariffs have gone up by 182.75 per cent since 2013, and water has seen a 144.84 per cent jump within the same period.

A deregulated petroleum sector has also seen transport fares increased.

Meanwhile, public sector workers had their basic salaries increased by 13 per cent in January 2016.

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