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Don’t force us to quit – UTAG warns government

President of the University of Ghana chapter of the University Teachers Association (UTAG), Dr. Samuel Nkumban says there will be no guarantee of their members being effective if forced back to the classroom.

Speaking on the possibility of the Labour Commission seeking a court injunction to force UTAG to end its strike action, the Chapter President stated, “we have a saying that, you can force the horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink. So if you force us back to the classroom how will you ensure we deliver? How will you be guaranteed we are executing our mandate? If we are forced back to the classroom without our conditions of service being improved, it means the government wants us to leave our jobs and then they will have to bring in new staff from the ministries to teach.”

Expressing doubt over the government having any interest in their welfare, he revealed that their initial strike in 2021 was as a result of statements from the Finance Minister. “He asked us where we want the government to get the money to pay us our due and that was when we realized our negotiations had failed and that triggered our initial strike which was suspended later.”

Dr. Nkumban disclosed the UTAG strike action which began January 10, 2022, will go on as long as the government refuses to restore the 2013 Interim Market Premium of 114% of Basic Salary.

With a series of unfruitful meetings with the government over the past few months, UTAG has directed its members to withdraw teaching and related activities with effect from Monday, 10th January 2022 until further notice.

According to UTAG, the strike action is in response to “the worsening Conditions of Service (CoS) of the University Teacher and the failure of the Employer in addressing the plight of UTAG members within the agreed timelines.”

Portions of the communique announcing the strike and signed by the NEC members reads:

“It may be recalled that the Interim Market Premium (IMP) which was instituted following the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy got frozen, per a Government White Paper, in 2013, for the purpose of the conduct of an LMS to determine an MP payable to workers deserving of it. To date, this determination has not been made, which has resulted in the erosion of the University Teacher’s salary”.
There was the hope that by completing and implementing the Labour Market Survey (LMS) Report of 2019, a review of the IMP would have put the University Teacher on relatively good salary stead. Regrettably, the recommendations of the 2019 LMS Report without any accompanying technical report on the implementable MP is meaningless to UTAG as it does not address the pertinent issues of improved CoS.

“Interestingly, however, there was an LMS in 2014 whose Report did not see the light of day and one wonders if the 2019 LMS Report would ever be implemented since it is already two years old. In addition, recommendation (iii) from the 2019 LMS Report states that “Public Services Commission should liaise with educational institutions to prioritize the offering of courses in areas of demand to increase the employment prospects of their graduates and increase the pool of applicants for high vacancies.”

“How can such a National Agenda be attained if the CoS of the University Teacher keeps worsening year on year leading to an ever-increasing attrition rate on our campuses? UTAG members see the timing of the release of the report as one of the usual delay tactics that the Employer has employed over the years, which is unacceptable”.

“We must also point out the fact that generally, our members have decried the pittance agreed to be paid as annual research allowance and would want to have government to reconsider the payment of a more realistic research allowance as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.

“For the reasons stated above, the NEC of UTAG at its meeting held on 7th January 2022 reiterated its resolve to follow through with the decision to withdraw teaching and related activities until further notice with effect from Monday, 10th January 2022 and call on all UTAG members across the fifteen (15) branches to observe this directive.

“As a matter of urgency, we also call on the Employer to restore members to the 2013 IMP of 114% of Basic Salary in the interim whilst Government goes ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the CoS of the University Teacher.

“Following the uneasiness among UTAG members, any delay by the Employer would further exacerbate the already fragile academic calendar to the detriment of all stakeholders.

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