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Court Okays Sale of ECG

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An Accra High Court has given the government the clearance to continue with the processes towards handing over the operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to a concessionaire.

The green light follows the dismissal of a motion for interlocutory injunction filed by lawyers of staff of ECG seeking to halt the government.

In a ruling, the judge, Justice Lorenda Owusu said a court may grant an injunction in a matter when it finds it justified and convenient to do so.

Ruling

She said the question before the court was whether or not the applicants are entitled to the grant of the injunction adding that the ECG staff have the onus to prove to the court that they deserve it.

The high court judge stated that the plaintiffs cannot be said to have raised a serious question to be tried without raising a prima facie case.

She said the applicant’s need for protection must be weighed against that of the respondents.

The court held that on the balance of convenience, greater hardship would be occasioned the respondents if the application is granted.

Justice Owusu posited that work has been ongoing with conferences held which the applicants cannot deny.

In the view of the judge, the court is unable to grant the application and accordingly dismissed it.

The court however encouraged the respondents to continue with their discussions.

The motion was intended to restrain the selecting of a concessionaire for taking over the operations of ECG.

The applicants were also seeking to prevent the government from engaging individual employees of ECG on any redundancy deal.

The Thousand and one ECG workers are asking the Labour Court to declare that sending ECG workers, including the plaintiffs, on permanent transfer constitutes a redundancy.

Mr. Benedict Kanose, a worker of the ECG, is leading the workers as the first plaintiff, while the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU) is the second plaintiff, with the ECG, the Attorney-General and the MiDA as the defendants.

Arguments

In moving the motion in the court presided over Martin Kpebu, lawyer for the workers said per the Request for Proposal documents he has sighted, only 6,000 of the workers of ECG had been assured of five years of employment after the deal.

He stated that section 65 of the Labour Act enjoins the employer under such circumstances to declare redundancy insisting that it is strange for ECG and the government to say that there would be no redundancy.

Mr. Kpebu noted that if the action of the respondents was allowed by the court, some 3,000 more staff of ECG would suffer.

He said the respondent have not been able to demonstrate that the bidder could guarantee the safety of the employment of the staff.

Cephas Gharlley, lawyer for ECG in opposing the motion said that an order for injunction is not just an order but one that demands that the applicants show why it ought to be granted.

He stated that the ECG staff have stated that the contract they seek to stall would be of benefit to the company.

The ECG lawyer claimed that the plaintiffs have again indicated that the compact is for the public good adding “Do you praise a compact and turn around to say that it should be stopped?”

No Case

While urging the court to dismiss the motion, he said it was only the employer of the plaintiffs who could declare redundancy under the Labour Act.

Mr. Gharlley was of the view that until ECG declares redundancy, no worker could talk about redundancy insisting that the fears of the applicants are unfounded.

He contended that the applicants have failed to make a case to justify the grant of the injunction.

Source: Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson/ thePublisher

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