Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, August 07, 2015
The John Dramani Mahama-led NDC administration appears to have its back on the wall following recent incessant demands from public workers for improved conditions of service.
The latest to join the strike chorus is the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), which declared an indefinite strike yesterday over their book and research allowance which has not been paid.
As a result, public universities which are expected to re-open by this weekend might have a re-think because UTAG members have said they will not enter the classrooms to teach if the authorities go ahead to re-open the institutions.
UTAG President Dr Samuel Ofori Bekoe told Peace FM yesterday that at a meeting held on Wednesday at the University Of Education, Winneba, the association resolved to intensify the strike until their 2014/2015 Book and Research Allowance was paid by the government.
“The government owes us some money. Our book and research allowance is still outstanding for the 2014/2015 academic year. We are entering another academic year and we still don’t know what they are doing for us,” he said, adding that “we have decided that if they are not able to pay the outstanding debt, then we are not ready to enter into a new arrangement. They should pay us what we have worked for before we can enter into another academic year.”
He said that the book and research allowance saga was still inconclusive because “the government decided that it was replacing it with research fund but we told them from day one that the research allowance and the research fund were incompatible.”
“They have not come up with any solution since our meetings with them. We signed an MoU with the government and there was a clause in there which said that until we found something suitable to replace the book and research allowance, the government was going to continue to pay the book and research allowance.”
Dr Ofori Bekoe said that the government has been aware of the situation since September 2, 2014, adding that “they also acknowledged the fact that they owe UTAG book and research allowance.”
“We will continue to perform outside duties as mandated but we will not enter into the classrooms to teach until we are paid. The universities are re-opening by this weekend, starting from University of Cape Coast, and we will not teach if we don’t get our allowances.”
He said that the timing of their strike was coincidental and was not determined because the universities were re-opening, saying, “We gave the government up to the end of July 2015 but we did not hear from them. We wanted everything to conclude before we entered into another academic year. The universities can re-open but we will not enter the classrooms to teach.”
Already, Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) is on the verge of embarking on a strike to press home their demand for improved conditions of service.
According to TEWU, government is deliberately delaying the negotiation process that would lead to improvement in their conditions of service and have warned that they cannot restrain themselves any longer.
In just a month, about five different public employee groups have either gone on strike or threatened to do so over poor remunerations.
The strikes are 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.
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.
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 has seen the worst of such actions in the three years of his administration, hence his ‘dead goat’ analogy.