UTAG strike: TUC urges government to show good faith in negotiation

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged government to show good faith in its engagement with the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to find a lasting solution to the impasse between the two.

UTAG has been on strike since Monday, August 2, 2021, over what it said was government’s refusal to heed to calls by the Association to improve the worsening conditions of service of the university teachers.

The Association also accused the government of feet dragging in their negotiations concerning the welfare of the teachers.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Mid-Year Budget Review forum in Accra, Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General of the TUC, pressed on Government to loosen up on its stance and show commitment in its engagement with the teachers to address the matter.

He noted that the issue if not immediately addressed, could have dire consequences on students, as well as the entire educational system.

“One of the grievances was that government was not showing good faith in the negotiations. I believe strongly that if government shows good faith UTAG will come around and then the students will write their exam.

Teachers want to teach, they don’t want to be on the sea, they don’t want to be at home. They, themselves are not happy that they are staying at home; I don’t think UTAG members are happy so we expect that negotiations will continue,” he said.

Dr Baah added that the National Labour Commission (NLC) was in pole position to address the dispute and urged its leadership to continue to engage the two parties to bring finality to the issue.

He said: “I think the NLC is the right institution to deal with this dispute and I am confident that at the end of the day government and UTAG will find a solution because as they say; if two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. Our children are in school and they cannot write their exams. I don’t think that is what UTAG want. UTAG just want government to listen to them.”

UTAG is demanding a restoration of a 2012 Single Spine Salary structure that would have seen entry- level lecturers earn the cedi equivalent of $2,084 monthly.

“There was a roadmap that led to that situation where Kufour’s government at the time committed that lecturers should not receive below a certain amount but that was index to the dollar. So what UTAG is asking for is that look at what we agreed on at the time and then let us see if what you are giving us now is the same or it has fallen and truly, in terms of dollar there has been some decline,” he said.

Dr Baah bemoaned the decline in real wages of public sector workers over the years, a situation he said had culminated in the numerous industrial unrest witnessed in the past.

The Secretary General of TUC, therefore, called on the tripartite committee to consider reforming the Single Spine Salary structure to ensure that workers were not worse off.

“We should make sure that the single spine is designed to ensure that real wages actually increase but not decline and I think we have people and expertise in this country to be able to do it to ensure that even negotiations can be tied to it, we work out the real wages and see,” he said.

He added that; “If the real wages from one year to the other is declining government adjust pay so that real wages do not decline. So that can become the indicators or what we call parameters for determining pay.”

Source: GNA

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