Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) is on the verge of embarking on strike to press home their demand for improved conditions of service.
It is coming at a time when the country is witnessing strike chaos in the public health sector with the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) leading the charge to demand for improved conditions of service as well as pensions.
According to TEWU whose membership cuts across all public tertiary institutions in the country as well as non teaching staff in secondary schools, the government is deliberately delaying the negotiation process that would lead to improvent in their condition of service and have warned that they cannot restrain themselves any longer.
TEWU General Secretary Augustine Kabo told Citi FM:“We don’t think it is fair on us as leadership to sit by and look as our members are being disadvantaged. So we are sounding the alarm bells to Government and to the powers that be.”
“If they have ears, they should hear this in good faith that we are prepared to dialogue with them,” adding that “in the absence of dialogue, and having been waiting patiently for all this while with these matters coming to our members, we cannot continue to sit and wait for dialogue to come on.”
July 26 Warning
On July 26, TEWU gave the government a one-month ultimatum, to conclude negotiations on salaries and other conditions of service of members, or face their wrath. The association had warned that if by August, government had not finalised all negotiations, the union would advise itself.
Peter Lumor, National Chairman of TEWU, had given the warning during the opening session of the Brong-Ahafo Regional Delegates conference in Sunyani.
He said that government and for that matter the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC) were being ‘unfair’ to TEWU over the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
He had said since the scheme and conditions of service of members expired eight years ago, the government had not made an attempt to renew it.
“If the government is treating doctors special and looking down on our members, then it is looking for trouble,” he had warned.
In just a month, about five different public employee groups - the majority of who are from the health sector - have either gone on strike or threatened to do so over poor remunerations.
Nurses of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA) have also laid down their tools but State Attorneys at the AG’s Department have eventually called off their strike after almost a month, granting the government what looks like a temporary reprieve.
The over 150 lawyers have, however, threatened to resume the industrial action if their demands for improved conditions of service are not met.
They submitted to compulsory arbitration at the National Labour Commission and have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the arbiter to sort out their demands with the government.
What makes the current situation a challenging one is that these aggrieved workers are protesting at a time the government seems to be saddled with a cash squeeze.
Prices of petroleum products keep rising and the cedi continues to underperform, coupled with an ongoing energy crisis (dumsor); and it appears the overstretched workers are not able to hold on to the rising cost of living anymore.
President John Mahama has already stated that he will not give in to the demands of workers, especially getting to the 2016 elections, claiming that he had seen the worst of such actions in the three years of his administration, hence his ‘dead goat’ analogy.
Some critics of the government have said the strike chorus appears to be the only language the Mahama-led NDC administration understands.