Sunday, October 24, 2010

UTAG ends strike

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By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday October 23, 2010
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has finally decided to go back to the classrooms and teach after a committee recommended that the government pays the 2008 attained target of the cedi equivalent of 1500 dollars to the lecturers.

A news release issued in Accra and signed by Dr. Samuel Asiedu-Addo, National President of UTAG said “the National Executive Committee of UTAG has taken into consideration the outcome of their meeting with the Ministries of Education and Finance and Economic Planning and wishes to announce that UTAG is suspending the withdrawal of its services with immediate effect.”

The release said UTAG is grateful to President John Evans Atta Mills for his timely intervention and commended the two ministries together with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, for their co-operation and the media for a fair reportage, and the students and the public for their patience.

“The National Executive Committee of UTAG wishes to thank the general body of UTAG for their unflinching support. UTAG wishes to assure students that they will not suffer any loss due to the withdrawal of its teaching services.”

In a related development, the Minister of Education, Alex Tettey Enyo is reported to have ruled out any presidential intervention to resolve the strike by the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG).

Members of POTAG have been on strike for nearly three weeks in protest over poor conditions of service and this has put the academic calendar into disarray.

The polytechnic teachers have however engaged in running on-air battles with the deputy Minister of Education, Dr. JS Annan and also accused the National Labour Commission (NLC), the statutory body mandated to resolve industrial disputes, as being unfair and insensitive to their plight.

POTAG president, Godfred Abledu has said there is no opportunity for them to negotiate and has called on the President Mills to intervene.

Their demand for a presidential intervention stems from a similar act by President Mills who stepped in to resolve a similar strike by UTAG.

“We have not been given the opportunity to negotiate. We are expecting something similar. We are expecting our government come to the negotiating table and then we resolve issues which we have outlined in our petition. Once it has been done for the universities we are also thinking it should be done for the polytechnics, since they are all tertiary institutions," he stated.

Mr. Abledu said POTAG will convene an emergency meeting on Tuesday October 26, 2010 to deliberate on the next line of action but maintained that they will not return to the classrooms until their demands are met.

But the Education Minister says POTAG must have faith in the labour commission and said it is not time for POTAG to call for any presidential intervention, adding that there are institutions to deal adequately with the matter.

“We are encouraging them to have confidence in the institutions set up by the state to look into such matters,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it has reached that stage where government should intervene to deal adequately with the matter,” the Minister advised.

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