Boakye Agyarko – Energy Minister
Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko has assured workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana their jobs are secure under the 20-year concessional agreement.
He said government has renegotiated an earlier provision that barred any new managers from laying off workers only within the first five years of the implementation of the agreement.
Government has now secured an agreement with the concessionaires not to lay off any workers in the entire 20-year period of the concessional agreement, the minister said.
Workers of the state-owned power distributor have been protesting an arrangement which would see the company handed to a concessionaire for the next 25 years.
When the attempts to block the deal failed last year, the workers now say the government, which is the sole owner of the company must pay them severance packages before the new managers take over.
Under the new Millennium Challenge Power Compact agreement programme, Ghana will receive a US$469,300,000 with a new management for ECG.
The aim of the Ghana Power Compact is to create a financially viable power sector to meet the current and future needs of households and businesses, and to help fight poverty across the country.
Ahead of the implementation of the concessional agreement, the workers are demanding a severance package.
Eastern Region Chair of the Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) Abraham Lincoln says the government has every right to continue any policy started by the previous government, including the concessional agreement under which ECG is being handed to a private company to manage.
But before this is done, he argued, the government must first pay workers of the existing company their severance package.
Quoting Section 65 (2) of the Labour Act, he said if they are going to be put on secondment for the next 20 years under a new company then they deserve a severance package with the old company which is ECG.
Responding to the concerns at a press briefing, the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko said the workers can only legitimately claim a severance package if they are leaving the company.
But as long as they remain in the employ of ECG even under the new management, they cannot have any severance packages paid to them.
All willing to leave are at liberty to leave but they cannot have an expectation that they will have a job in the new company, Mr Agyarko noted.
He said the government considered the concerns of the workers and reviewed the period of the concession from 25 to 20 years.
In addition, he said the jobs of workers have been secured.
“We have explained that all benefits accrued to staff under ECG will be transferred to the new company,” he stressed.
The new company, he asserted, will not have a right to vary or alter the benefits of workers.