The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has allayed fears that the ongoing strike action will impede the registration of freshmen (new entrants) in various universities across the country.
Secretary for the association Dr. Asare Asante-Annor, in an interview with B&FT, explained that the industrial action is for only classroom activities and all other services are going on smoothly on the various campuses.
“We have only withdrawn teaching. I have colleagues who are hall masters and hall tutors receiving the students, especially the freshers and continuing students. We ask the students to remain calm and patient while we negotiate with government, especially on our conditions of service,” he said.
“We need to calm them (students) down. The impasse is between UTAG and government. It is a caution especially to those freshers who are just about to come to school. We do empathise with them, we urge them to be calm. Our demands have been overlooked for almost 10 years. At this point we want to drum home the plight of university teachers, the worsening conditions of service for the university teacher; and the failure of government to address these worsening conditions,” he reiterated.
He made these comments after some students expressed fear of not being able to be registered in order to commence academic work and also have access to other school facilities.
Reasons for strike
UTAG on Monday began an indefinite strike to press government to address the myriad of issues relating to their conditions of service. In a communique jointly signed by the President of UTAG, Prof. Solomon Nunoo; its secretary, Dr. Asare Asante-Annor; as well as the presidents of various branches of the association, they complained about what it refers to as the lack of trust that has so far characterised their engagements with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).
The withdrawn services include teaching and other activities like examinations, invigilation, marking examination scripts, and processing examination results.
The association has been asking government to restore the conditions of service agreed upon in 2012. The 2012 conditions of service pegged the Basic plus Market Premium of a lecturer at US$2,084.42. UTAG has complained that the current arrangement has reduced its members’ basic premiums to US$997.84.
Meeting with NLC
Meanwhile, the National Labour Commission (NLC) has invited the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and government for a meeting today, January 13, at 2:30pm over the teachers’ industrial action.
A statement, signed by Director, Administration and Human Resource, NLC, Dr. Bernice A. Welbeck, said the invitation is in line with the Commission’s mandate under section 138 of Act 651 and in the exercise of its powers under section 139 of Act 65.
The statement said in view of the COVID-19 protocols, the representation by each side is restricted to a maximum of two persons.
Speaking to B&FT on their expectations ahead of the meeting, Dr. Asante-Annor – who was not so much enthused – indicated that they are not going in high spirits; but was quick to add that all they want is for NLC to indicate to them that they have been able to come to a reasonable deal with government, whereby at least one month market premium of what they earned in 2012 is given to them.
“We don’t have any expectations apart from our conditions of service being addressed. So, when we go and they indicate they have been able to broker a deal with government, our conditions have been restored, then our members will be very happy. We are saying that they put an interim market premium of one-month salary that we used to get in 2012,” Dr. Asante-Annor emphasised.
On the number of people to represent UTAG at the meeting, he noted: “We have already written that we have a very big representation when it comes to UTAG; so for transparency and also in the spirit of unionism, we are requesting additional members of up to about six”.