The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), has welcomed the decision by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), to embark on an indefinite strike from Monday, January 10, 2022.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with MyJoyOnline.com on Sunday, the General Secretary of the Union, Mr. Julius Kwame Anthony intimated that, the decision by UTAG to withdraw its services is a reasonable step by the Association because government has failed to honour its part of the bargain.
“Our position is simple. UTAG has been on these demands partly since 2013, and other issues came up from 2019 till this point. And speaking of the immediate issues, when they went on strike last year, we responded in calling on them to return to the classrooms so that the academic calendar which had already been frustrated by COVID and all that, those issues could be completed. They acted in good faith and heeded to those calls and went back to negotiate with government.
What we see is a situation where government has taken an entrenched stance on most of these things, which shouldn’t be the way to go. Because if UTAG agrees to call off the strike in the interim, why is it that up till now, the 2013 interim market premium, which had been frozen, even that had not been released, so that at least, the teachers could be working with that.
All those conditions have not been met, and we feel that there’s a lack of commitment on the side of government on solving those issues, and we feel that the only way forward is for us to back UTAG in making their demands, and when they get it, we all resume. We can’t continue the back and forth anymore”, Mr. Anthony said.
In a statement issued by UTAG on January 8, the Association indicated that government has failed to keep to the agreed timelines for the resolution of their concerns. The leadership of the lecturers union therefore stated that they will withdraw their services indefinitely until all their outstanding concerns are promptly addressed by government.
UTAG had initially embarked on strike in August, 2021, which lasted for weeks. They requested government to restore the conditions of service agreed upon in 2012 which they said is far better than what pertains currently.
Following the strike action, a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the government and UTAG, sighted by JoyNews after the meeting, indicated that, “both parties agree that there is a need to get back to the negotiating table from the week beginning Monday 23rd August, 2021.”
During the period, government and UTAG were to, among other things, negotiate the research component of the Book and Research Allowance, market premium, and non-basic allowance. However, UTAG says for months, their concerns have not been addressed as per the agreed timelines in previous negotiations.
Secretary of the University of Ghana chapter of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UG UTAG), Prof. Ransford Gyampo, had stressed that until their conditions of service are improved, they will not hesitate to withdraw their services.
Meanwhile, UTAG has called on their employers to as a matter of urgency, restore members to the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114% of Basic Salary in the interim. They also urged the government to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the conditions of service 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,” they added.