University Teachers’ Strike: UTAG is proving difficult to deal with – Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Boss

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Ing. Benjamin Arthur says dealing with the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) over their demands to government has been very difficult.

According to him, government is prepared to deal with the demands of the Association; however, UTAG continues to pose challenges to the work of government.

Citing the events that have led to the ongoing indefinite strike by UTAG, Ing. Benjamin Arthur said on JoyNews’ PM Express, Monday, that “In the first place, UTAG complained of delays in giving them copies for their study that is the labour market survey. And the agreement was that on 31st which was the latest date set, government ought to give them copies of the labour market survey.

“And indeed government made the labour market survey ready on the 31st. I personally called them ready to meet them for them to be given copies. But because of the break, they gave us 6th of January which was a Thursday for them to make themselves available; and they actually appeared and we gave them hardcopies and softcopies.”

He stated that, considering the fact that he had furnished UTAG with the Labour Market Survey which they requested, he was expectant that their indefinite strike would be called off to give way to more amicable dialogue.

“We also agreed with them at that meeting that other outstanding issues that they had raised, we wanted to meet them today to discuss. So we sent them invitations on the same 6th after they had left, and they had also promised that in two weeks’ time they were also going to get back to us with their comments on the labour market survey,” he said.

But alas! “We were surprised that instead of receiving their comments, inputs, on the labour market survey, they did not do that. They rather issued a second communique that they want to embark on strike.

“And some of the reasons that they cited would definitely culminate in dialogue. So already we have invited you for dialogue, why would you not want to show up for us to dialogue, have a peaceful atmosphere and reach consensus on the matter, but rather you want to be on the street.”

Ing. Arthur added that it was unfortunate that the Association, despite the many, more amicable avenues to register their grievances, had chosen a strike action instead.

According to him, dialogue should have been their first choice.

“And we believe that the way forward is dialogue. And we have already written to the National Labour Commission, and complained of that. Because if you have grievances, we have adequate provisions in the labour law that say, dialogue.

“If you believe that we cannot dialogue, you have the option of introducing a 3rd party intervention to come into the matter. That also has not been done by UTAG. They have not also exercised the option of using arbitration.

“National Labour Commission is there, they could complain but they have not also used that mechanism. So therefore, what do they stand to gain? What is their intention?”

The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has therefore filed a complaint with the National Labour Commission to bring UTAG and the Commission to the table for further dialogue.

“I’m appealing to UTAG members and their executives that, look, in this country whenever you go for a strike, the last resort is that we need to meet and talk so there’s no need shying away from each other,” he said.

Background

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) today laid down their working tools due to government’s failure to address the worrying condition of service of lecturers.

According to the Association, government has breached the timelines agreed for resolution. UTAG has, therefore, indefinitely withdrawn teaching and related activities.

Among other things, UTAG wants government to reconsider the payment of its annual research allowance to a more realistic allowance “as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.”

They also want the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114% of Basic Salary in the interim restored.

In August last year, the Association directed its members to withdraw their services. The strike action lasted for weeks, and students had to bear the brunt of the action.

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