PURC seeks legal implications of TUC’s withdrawal

Mr. Kofi Asamoah - TUC Secretary-General
Mr. Kofi Asamoah – TUC Secretary-General

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has referred the decision of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to suspend its representation on the PURC’s board to the Attorney General and Parliament.

The commission has also declared its intention to seek an interpretation on the legal implications the action of the TUC could have on its work.

It followed the TUC’s letter dated November 1, 2013 to the PURC to boycott the commission’s activities in response to high increases in utility tariffs.

The Executive Secretary of the PURC, Mr Samuel Sarpong, told the media in Accra that section two of the PURC act, 1997 (act 538) which established the commission clearly stated the exact composition of the PURC board, which ought to include a representation of the TUC.

Mr Sarpong, who described the TUC’s stance as an unfortunate development, queried whether the PURC board was an association that members could at any point resolve to suspend their representation?

TUC on boycott
The TUC in its letter to the commission said it would continue to boycott activities of the commission until demands for the reduction of tariffs to an affordable level were met.

“We cannot continue to be part of decisions that we consider insensitive to the plight of the working people of Ghana”, the Secretary General, Mr Kofi Asamoah, said in the letter.

No show at dialogue meeting
The TUC, which was also scheduled to be present at a planned dialogue meeting with the PURC to chart the roadmap and the way forward towards resolving issues surrounding the recent tariff adjustment on the other hand failed to show up.

Mr Sarpong said the commission received a letter from the TUC at the last hour on Tuesday about their inability to honour the invitation since they had a similar meeting at the seat of the Presidency.

Representatives of the utility service providers who were in attendance to solicit from the TUC, a roadmap and scenarios arrived at on their demand for a reduction in tariffs were left disappointed when Mr Sarpong read the TUC’s correspondence to them.

“The posture adopted by organised labour appeared a bit strange since the invitation to attend the dialogue session was known to the TUC’s steering committee”, Mr Sarpong said.

“It is amazing how this group of over 50 people were going to attend a meeting at the Flagstaff House, he added.

Issues of engagement
The proposed dialogue meeting brought together representatives of the four utility providers as well as two independent power producing companies, the Sunon Asogli Power Company and the Cenit Power Company.

It aimed at discussing the implications of further reductions in the tariffs, load shedding and deficits which ought to be covered to save providers from collapsing, among others.

Mr Sarpong said that the Cenit plant for instance was owned by workers since it was an investment made by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) for and on behalf of Ghanaian workers.

“It is only the workers of Ghana or the TUC who can decide to remove the Cenit Plant from the whole generation mix and shut it down”, he explained.

Mr Sarpong appealed to the TUC to reconsider its posture and provide a window of opportunity for the PURC and the other stakeholder bodies to amicably resolve the challenges.

Source: Daily Graphic

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