An Accra High Court on Thursday adjourned to October 24, the case in which 1,001 workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) are challenging moves to hand over the operations of the Company to a concessionaire without any redundancy package for them.
Mr Martin Kpebu, Counsel for the ECG Workers, had told the court that he was not in the position to move the application for interlocutory injunction for the court to halt the planned concession of ECG until the final determination of the suit.
He said they received the Attorney General’s (AG’s), 47 paragraph affidavit, in opposition on Wednesday October 18, and had not gone through it with his clients before filing a supplementary affidavit due to time constraint.
Mr Kpebu said he would have to go back and discuss same with his clients, since it would be suicidal for him to move his application, without responding or knowing what the AG has filed.
“There are a lot of things at stake, because even though the plaintiffs were 1001, they are fighting for about 4,000 workers of ECG, and therefore we must take our time to go through their affidavit in opposition, before we move our application,” he said.
Mr Godfred Dame, Deputy Attorney General, however disagreed with counsel for the plaintiffs, saying there was no need for them to file a supplementary affidavit because there was nothing new in their affidavit in opposition.
The court later granted the plaintiffs some time to go through the affidavit and file their supplementary affidavit in support of their application for an interlocutory injunction.
At the last sitting, the court adjourned the matter after the State, represented by Principal State Attorney Ms Grace Oppong, had told the court that they have filed an affidavit in opposition in response to an interlocutory induction filed by the ECG workers, as part of her suit.
The workers are in court asking the Labour Division of the High Court to declare that sending ECG workers, including the plaintiffs, on permanent transfer constitutes a redundancy.
The workers are also asking for a declaration that the decision by the Minister of Energy to conduct redundancy negotiations with individual employees of ECG, including the plaintiffs, is illegal and constitutes a gross violation of Section 65 of the Labour Act.
That section of the Labour Act requires that negotiations for redundancy pay must be conducted between the employer and the Workers Union, among other provisions, and also constitutes unlawful interference with trade union activities.
The plaintiffs are praying for an order directed at the defendants to comply with the provisions of the Labour Act, go through the proper redundancy process as laid down in Ghana’s laws and pay the plaintiffs redundancy pay (severance package) in accordance with the stipulation in the law and the collective agreement between the workers and the ECG.
They are also seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants, their assigns and privies from continuing with the Compact Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on August 5, 2014, for the reform of the electricity distribution sector of Ghana by, among other issues, appointing a concessionaire to take over the distribution of electricity from the ECG and related agreements.
A further declaration that the failure of the ECG and the Attorney-General to declare a redundancy in the ECG, pursuant to their plans to hand over the business of the ECG to a concessionaire, constitutes a breach of the contract of employment between the plaintiffs and the ECG is also being sought.
Damages for breach of contract, costs, including solicitor’s fees, and other reliefs are also being sought by the defendants.