Striking University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) members have called on President Akufo-Addo to intervene regarding their issues to find an amicable solution.
UTAG members have withdrawn their service since academic work resumed in the various universities on 10th January 2022 and it is entering its third week.
They are demanding from the government restoration of the 2013 interim market premium of 114% which was arrived at following negotiations between the government and UTAG leadership.
According to UTAG, failure by the relevant authorities to implement their demand have unfortunately made them one of the least paid among their counterparts in other parts of the world, including Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, among others.
And following a stalemate in deliberations between UTAG and the various stakeholders like the Education Ministry and Employment and Labour Relations Ministry, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, as well as the National Labour Commission, they believe an intervention by President Akufo-Addo should be the last resort to save the situation.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) UTAG Vice President, Dr. Eric Kwabena Kyeh Abavare, noted that a quick intervention could help calm matters and make the lecturers return to work.
“I do not for once blame the employer’s assigns because you can see genuine effort on their part. But they don’t have the ability (to resolve our issues). The President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, I think a word from him can neutralize all this. What is the lecturer’s basic salary in the first place? Everything put together is even less than GH¢8000 if 114% is used. So what is so huge that we are being overly demanding? Let me give you an example, in 2006/2007, during the era of former president Kufuor, UTAG was in the same situation. He (Former President John Agyekum Kufuor) only just spoke. He told the Dr. Baah Wiredu of blessed memory, that go and sort these guys out and that’s where we got our $1,500 dollars in that period”.
Dr. Eric Kwabena Kyeh Abavare called on the government to take immediate steps in addressing the matter as early as possible to redeem the country’s image, particularly in the eyes of international students.
He cautioned that if urgent measures are not taken, international students will lose interest in studying in Ghana and various institutions risk losing the revenue it brings.
“When was the last time government brought in subvention? International students troop in here because of the quality education we provide here. If we do not safeguard and protect it, they will keep their monies in their various countries because what they are experiencing in their countries is prompting them to come here. If they are going to be experiencing the same, what’s the point of coming here?”
However, members of the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN), of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at KNUST, at a press briefing in Kumasi criticized and expressed disappointment at the government’s handling of the industrial action by their lecturers.
While briefing the press, the President of the TEIN KNUST chapter, Theophilus Berchie, urged the government to prioritise UTAG’s concerns.
“Is this the first time UTAG has warned of improvement of conditions of service or will embark on strike? After the compromise, why has government failed to engage UTAG to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, after the effect of the first strike which disorganized many students across the country? Some were even in the middle of their examination”.
For postgraduate students at KNUST who lament that they are part of those who have been worst affected by the strike, they have reiterated the call on stakeholders to resolve the matter.
Francis Mintah Dadzie, the Public Relations Officer of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana at KNUST, complained that the plans of students have been distorted.
“For postgraduate students, our focus is on research. Continuing students are struggling to meet their supervisors in order to get a fair idea of what they are supposed to do. Some have submitted their proposals as of now, some to have submitted various portions of their thesis, but they have not been attended to because of the strike”.