UTAG strike must be resolved urgently – Ahiagbah

Deputy Director of Research at the Office of the President, Richard Ahiagbah, has called for a swift resolution of the issues that have resulted in the industrial action by members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG).

He noted that there have been some engagements among key stakeholders to ensure this matter is resolved.

He was contributing to a discussion on the assurance given by Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum to work to resolve the issues that resulted in the strike to enable the lecturers return to the classroom to teach.

Dr Adutwum said at a press conference in Accra on Sunday January 30 that “Unfortunately, university lecturers are on strike, but we continue to engage them as to how best we can get them back.”

He added “As a Minister of Education, I have said I am a chief advocate for teachers and professors and when we find ourselves in this place. I do everything possible formally and informally, to make sure we come to some resolution.”

Speaking on the New Day show on TV3 with host Berla Mundi Monday January 31, Mr Ahiagbah who is a former Executive Director of the Danquah Institute said “From what the Ministers said, there has been engagements. It is should be ongoing . I think the NLC has gone to court because there was an agreement that they proceed and then the negotiations also proceeded. I think that needs to be addressed as urgently as possible.”

Meanwhile the National Labour Commission (NLC) has sued UTAG in court over their action. The NLC had declared the strike illegal but UTAG failed to call it off.

UTAG members have been on strike since Monday January 10. This was as a result of the failure of the government to resolve their issues.

A statement they issued on Saturday January 8 said “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.”

The statement further said that “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 a LMS to determine a 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 a 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 Condition of Service (CoS).

“Interestingly however, there was a 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 prioritise 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.”

Source: 3news

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