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The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU), the mother body of staff of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), is threatening legal action against government over its intended move to give out the power distributor on a 25-year concession.
According to the union, the current concession agreement did not make provision for the payment of severance packages to ECG workers in the event the government succeeds in handing over ECG to a private entity to manage.
Utility service workers, especially ECG workers together with some stakeholders have in past months objected to the concession arrangement, which is part of the $498.2 million the United States government’s Millennium Challenge Compact II programme aimed at improving the country’s power sector, which has been bedeviled with managerial and operational inefficiencies.
Despite several stakeholder engagements by government to allow for a private concessionaire to run the operations of the State-owned power distributor under the arrangement, the workers union seem not to be satisfied with the agreement and therefore wants to resort to the court for redress.
Mr. Michael Adumatta Nyantakyi, General Secretary of PUWU speaking to Starr News after a meeting with ECG workers in the Volta region, said the absence of the severance package component in the concession agreement violates the labour laws and the condition of service under which the workers were employed.
“If government is going ahead with the concession, then we must do what the law says. Staff are entitled to be paid their severance [package] and you can’t use any concept or any principle to say that we’re not going to pay anything because we’re moving you and you’ll have to continue to work; what people are legitimately entitled should not be denied. That one, we say we’ll not accept that. If it comes to the crunch and we have to even go to the court, we’re preparing and we’ll take the matter to court,” the PUWU chief scribe told Starr News’ Lambert Atsivor in Ho.
He added: “Once you move from ECG to the private sector, you’re no longer a staff of ECG, and the law says that, where any arrangement will lead to the termination of employment relationship, under section 65 of the Labour Act, you’re supposed to be paid the person severance. But so far in all the arrangement, nobody is talking about payment of severance to ECG staff but this is a legal issue and we’ll not just keep quiet. That one we’ll assert our right through every legal means possible.”
Mr. Nyantakyi further reiterated the union’s opposition to the concession arrangement in its current form, stating that government should rather resort to a Joint-venture approach to create a win-win situation for the private concessionaire and the Ghanaian public
“We thought that, the option of a joint-venture with ECG partnering with a private operator to bring reforms would have been the best way to go around many of the negatives with the concession,” he stated.