Monday, February 17, 2014

Tema workers want life-enhancing government actions

The Tema District Council of Labour (TDCL) has expressed concern about the hike in utility tariffs and other services making life unpleasant for workers and their families.
This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Wilson Agana, Chairman and Mr Ebenezar Kodwo Taylor, Secretary, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday in Tema.
It said the actions of government including the arbitrary increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT), fuel price hikes; drastic fall off the cedi, the directive to freeze pay increase, and others was affecting workers.
In the statement, workers of Tema said they have observed with great concern the manner in which the Government was hiding behind the Automatic Adjustment Formula and the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission (PURC) to increase the tariffs without due regard to affordability, since workers pay has not been increased to match with the utility tariff increase.
“Workers of Tema are vehemently opposed to such practices” adding that, “price hikes in utilities renders the cost of doing business in Ghana very high since most industries thrive on manageable cost of production”
The TDCL also expressed concern about the arbitrary increase in VAT from 15% to 17.5%, and that, in the light of the economic hardship, it apparently portrays the Government as insensitive to the plight of the citizenry, as the prices of goods and services have risen very high.
In the statement, the workers observed that most of the pressure on the limited foreign currencies was as a result of the importation of finished petroleum products by Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs) and requested that “the tide must be stemmed by ensuring that the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) does all the refining”.
On water, the workers said it is suicidal for Government, who has the responsibility to provide the basic necessity of life to shy away from this responsibility by the thought of assigning pre-paid meters to potable water.
It said the workers of Tema also feel that denying the citizenry potable water through this policy will seriously promote health hazards such as outbreak of epidemics, stating that, the consequences will be unbearable.
“Water is life and there is no need to gamble with it at the detriment of our valuable citizens.”
According to the statement, the directive to freeze pay increases in 2014 concludes that government is very insensitive to the concerns and plight of workers.
“With reference to the above concerns, we are calling on the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Organised Labour to call on government to immediately convene a National Tripartite Committee meeting to address the issue of the national daily minimum wage among others.”
On the TOR, the workers made an appeal to the President to expedite action on the reconstitution of the Refinery Board of Directors, which membership must include persons who understand the refinery operations and are also business minded with a vision of turning around the fortunes of TOR within the shortest possible time.
The workers called on government to honor its commitment of 37.7 million USD promised TOR
The TDCL also requested all stakeholders especially, SSNIT and the Bank of Ghana to clarify the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz. GNA

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