Staff of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), on Friday embarked on a sit-down strike to press home their demand for government to abrogate a planned concession programme of the company.
The strike action, according to the workers, is part of series of actions the workers intend to take to put pressure on the government, to halt the partial privatisation of the operations of the sole distributor of electricity for both domestic and industrial use.
Prior to Friday’s action, the workers had embarked on a three-hour demonstration from Wednesday, August 24 to Friday, August 26, to force the government to yield to their demands.
The agitations by the workers follow the government’s decision to introduce private sector participation into the management operation and investments in the electricity distribution system of ECG, through a long term concession.
The workers are kicking against the decision and have vowed to resist the private participation in the selected areas of their operations.
Frankly, the Times would not discuss the merit or demerit of the private participation in ECG operations, but we are completely against the strike action by the workers.
Although we cannot take away the constitutional right of the workers to demonstrate, we are dismayed by their use of blackmail to force the hands of government.
The method of shutting their doors to customers and denying them electricity is unjust and must not be used.
The inconveniences caused members of the public who were affected by the strike as action is unfair and needless.
Our concern is that, if indeed the workers had a convincing argument, they may want to court public sympathy, but subjecting the public to such treatment would surely alienate and drive away any support the public may want to lend to them.
The question we ask is; where is the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in all this matter? Is there no role for the PURC in this matter?
The PURC has a mandate to protect the rights of the consumer, and it’s surprising that it is looking on while consumers are subjected to blackmail without raising a finger.
We do believe that the action taken by the ECG workers in only going to punish consumers and have little effect on the government.
The workers may have to change their strategy and use other means including dialogue to iron out the differences.
We call on the PURC, the Labour Commission, to as a matter of urgency, engage the workers with the view of ensuring that they do not continue to use electricity as a weapon to unnecessarily punish consumers.