There seems to be a serious turf war in Ghana's labour front on the way to go on the recent hikes in utility tariffs by the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC).
Whilst organised labour agrees in principle that the increases were on a high side and could spell doom for many industries in the country, they are divided on what constitutes an appropriate channel to engage the government to reduce the tariffs.
Whilst the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has issued a threat to hit the streets after a ten-day ultimatum they have given to the government to reduce the utility has elapsed, other unionised bodies hold a different view to this approach.
Mr. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the TUC, who issued the industrial action threat, said they cannot comprehend the rationale behind the 150 percent increases in utility tariffs, when the government was only able to increase salaries by a mere 10 percent.
But, the Ghana Federation of Labour says the approach adopted by the TUC on the matter smacks of "hypocrisy", especially when the TUC sat in the meetings that effected the increments. The General Secretary of the Federation of Labour, Abraham Koomson, told The Chronicle that the best way to reach a consensus on the issue was by dialogue.
He explained that even before the increases were effected, many industries in the country were facing very serious problems, such that some had even started laying off workers because of the high cost of doing business.
He argued that looking at the large number of workers in the manufacturing industry, it would be fool hardy to hit the streets if these workers do not properly understand the issues at stake.
He maintained that the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) had initiated talks with the relevant institutions on how best to salvage the situation, and thus, did not understand where the TUC was coming from on the issue of resorting to an industrial action.
"So out of the blue, if you go and issue this kind threat, what are you trying to say?" Mr. Koomson queried
He argued that the public service workers, who form part of the TUC, might not have much problems, but for the average manufacturing industry, they were suffering.
He maintained that it would be an exercise in futility to resort to strikes and demonstrations to solve the issues.
"The moment you hit the streets, the industries would not work, worker will not work, so you are going to aggravate the problems of the industries," he noted. He also expressed concern over lack of information flow from the TUC to its constituents. He said the TUC often keeps its constituents in the dark about deliberations it engages in, on behalf of the unions.
He mentioned, for example, that he was surprised to learn just recently that the TUC was part of deliberations with the PURC, and agreed on terms for increments in utility tariffs in the country.
He emphasised that it was important to effectively communicate to workers in a more efficient way for them to understand the issues very well, before they can be productively used for any industrial action.
According to him, it was only a leader who was exploitative and wants to ride on the back of the masses for cheap popularity, who would resort to these kinds of actions spelt out by the TUC.