The University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) is pleading with their teachers to return to the lecture halls when schools reopen as government sort out payment of their book and research allowance.

The University Teachers Association (UTAG) of Ghana are on strike over the non-payment of their research allowance.

 

The students fear academic work will be derailed if the strike persists.

At a press conference in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, the president of USAG, Henry Nkosuo decried how the incessant power outages affected their school work and prayed the lecturers do not add to their woes.

“Government should simply sit up. universities are re-opening this month and students are wondering hopelessly in despair,” he complained.

“As if the dumsor is not enough, the university lecturers are compounding our woes. The government has shown no positive action to give hope to the thousands of university students who are looking to start the academic year with vigor,” he continued.

USAG is therefore calling on government to fulfill it’s obligations to the teachers immediately.

“We pray that government will fulfill all of its obligations now and in the future in order to forestall future occurrences,” Mr Nkosuo concluded.

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has called on the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to end their strike.

 

The University Teachers suspended their services last week over demands for government to pay their Book and Research Allowance.

Speaking to Citi News, the Presidents of NUGS, Mr.  Prosper Dzitse pleaded with lecturers to return to the classrooms because it will affect the re-opening of universities.

“Now Legon is re- opening and the fact is that most of these students are going to be idle if the lecturers are not back to the classroom because they [students] are there to be taught. This also means that resources will be wasted because if the lecturers come back and they agree that the academic calendar should be extended, it will result in additional investments that have to be made by the students because some of these expenses have not been planned for,” he said.

He added “again, we should not forget that when this happens students are forced to to learn under intense pressure which is not a good way to offer education. . At the end of the day this will greatly affect the system.”

Meanwhile, the NUGS President added that he has spoke to the Deputy Minister of education in-charge of Tertiary Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa  who assured them of government’s commitment to end the strik.

 “I have spoken the Deputy Minister and he has assured me that the Finance Ministry is working on getting them their money so they can come back to the lecture rooms.”

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has called off its five-week old strike.

The aggrieved teachers resolved to go back to the classroom after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Ghana on Tuesday. The government has agreed to pay their book and research allowances for the 2013-14 academic year.

Under a seven-point agreement, the government has reaffirmed its resolve to pay the lecturers’ book and research allowances under the existing arrangement for the 2013-14 academic year.

The Secretary of UTAG, Dr Samuel A. Atintono, confirmed that the strike has been called off officially and that the association will “make an input” into the document that will help create the National Research Fund that is likely to replace the book and research allowances.

“For now we are satisfied, and we’ll go to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to negotiate about the National Research Fund,” Dr. Atintono told the media after the official announcement.

He gave a clear indication that UTAG is in a good position to make up for the lost period (three weeks) of the new academic year when they return to the lecture halls.

A deputy minister of education Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa described the development as “good news for the government."

He told Accra-based Citi FM Wednesday that they “hope to continue with this spirit and see to negotiation for the national research fund.”

Labour lawyer, Charles Bawa Duah is confident the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) will soon reach an agreement with government to call off its strike.

The lecturers have been on strike since July 24 over the protracted impasse between the Association and government over their research and book allowance.

Government says it is replacing the allowance with a National Research Fund, which the lecturers strongly disagreed.


The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), this week, called off its three-month-old strike after the government bent backward to pay their book and research allowance for the 2013/14 academic year.

On Thursday, the government met leadership of the UTAG to chart a road map towards finding a lasting solution to the impasse between them.

Currently, the book allowance stands at $1,500 for each lecturer per year while the research component stands at GH¢400.


“There is no agreement but as at the last meeting [between the government and UTAG], I can say that there has been some progress made,” Mr Bawa Duah who is the lawyer for UTAG asserted on Joy FM's news analysis programme, Newsfile.

Though he would not give concrete assurance about the Association going back to the classroom due to the still sketchy nature of the situation, he pointed out: “What has happened is that it would appear that the government has moved a little bit towards UTAG, and UTAG has also moved a little bit.”

He is therefore counting on a scheduled meeting on Tuesday to breathe out “some conclusion”.


Meanwhile, he said the Association is holding on, temporarily, its decision of exercising the right to go to court over the impasse.

“Let me say that members of UTAG are very eager to go back to the classroom and if their conditions of service are not unlawfully infringed upo; if their requirements are met, the demands are met, the grievances are settled; certainly they will go back to the lecture theatre.”

UTAG is demanding that the 2013/14 as well as the 2014/15 book and research allowance are paid, he stressed, adding that removing it is a contravention of teachers' condition of service.

The government has finally resolved to pay the book and research allowance of lecturers in the polytechnics and public universities for the 2013/2014 academic year, after almost four months of strikes and labour agitations.

At a press conference in Accra Tuesday, the government therefore, called on them to go back to the classroom.

However, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, the President of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Samuel Ofori-Bekoe, said the lecturers would continue the strike because the announcement was not new.

At a crunch meeting with Polytechnic Teachers Association (POTAG ) on Monday and yesterday, which was called at the instance of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and other government officials, it was agreed that the book and research allowance which had been the bone of contention between the government on one side and the UTAG and POTAG  on the other, was to be paid for the 2013/2014 academic year.

Also in attendance at the meeting were the Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang; her Deputy incharge of Tertiary Education, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa; the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Prof. Mahama Duweijah, and Mr James Dugra, National President of Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG).

It was also agreed that the monies should be paid from September up to the end of the fiscal year in October.

The meeting further agreed that the existing exchange rate of 2013 and 2014 should be used in computing the said allowances.

Briefing

Briefing the press after the meeting with POTAG, Mr Idrissu said the government had resolved to "Pay the Book and Research Allowance under the existing arrangement for the 2013/2014 academic year."

POTAG was also to call off its strike immediately, while the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) was to superintend the processes for the payment of the allowance.

Mr Iddrisu said the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) would engage the members of POTAG and the UTAG in negotiations on the Book and Research Allowance in line with the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).

He announced the decision of the government to substitute the Book and Research allowance with the National Research Fund, and asked the FWSC, UTAG and POTAG to take note of that in their negotiations.

POTAG's view

The National President of POTAG, Mr James Dugrah, in a statement said POTAG would call off the strike after it had re-convened a congress scheduled immediately following a meeting with the government side.

He later told the Daily Graphic that the decision to pay them the allowance showed good faith on the part of a government that had previously been resolute in its stance that it did not owe the teachers book and research allowances.

He said appeals from the Catholic Bishops' Conference, students, parents and the public were part of the considerations for POTAG  signing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) detailing agreements reached.

The MOU was signed by the Ministers of Employment and Education, Mr Iddrisu and Naana Opoku Agyemang respectively; the Chief Executive of the FWSC, Mr Smith-Graham, the Executive Secretary of the NCTE, Prof Mahama Duwiejua, and the National President of POTAG, Mr Dugra.

Members of POTAG have been on strike since May 15, 2014 over the non-payment of their book and research allowances since 2013. Their action was followed by UTAG in July, 2014.

Their actions were fuelled by the government’s decision to scrap the book and research allowance and institute a National Research Fund to permanently address the perennial challenges associated with the payment of the allowance.

The two bodies have rejected the government’s decision.

 

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has announced it is seeking redress in court over government’s refusal to pay their research and book allowance.

A statement signed by UTAG Secretary, Dr Samuel A. Atintono, indicated the association has withdrawn the case from the National Labour Commission (NLC) and the voluntary arbitration.

UTAG has given government a 30-day notice of its intention to go to court to seek three reliefs.

They are demanding that the government pays the 2013/2014 Book and Research Allowance since it had already accrued.

They also are seeking the court to prove that government cannot unilaterally vary the condition of service of UTAG by scrapping the Book and Research Allowance since they were negotiated for between both parties.

Lastly, they are seeking a perpetual injunction on government to put a stay on our variation of condition of service with respect to the Book and Research Allowance until a new condition of service is negotiated.

UTAG members have withdrawn their services for over four weeks, demanding payment of their research and book allowance.

Read the full statement below

Update on Strike and the Re-opening of public universities


UTAG had withdrawn the case from NLC and also from the voluntary arbitration in order to seek redress in the court.

UTAG has, therefore, served 30 days’ notice to Government that it intends to take the issue to Court to seek reliefs for three thingsthat:

1.Government should pay the 2013/2014 Book and Research Allowances since it had already accrued.

2. Government cannot unilaterally vary the condition of service of UTAG by scrapping the Book and Research Allowances since they were negotiated for between both parties.

3. UTAG is seeking a perpetual injunction on Government to put a stay on our variation of condition of service with respect to the Book and Research Allowances until a new condition of service is negotiated for.

UTAG is still on strike and our members should remain resolute until they hear an announcement from its leadership that the strike is called off. Media reports, comments, or Government announcements which are not authorised by UTAG do not represent UTAG’s position and should be ignored.

The Chairman of VCG, Prof William Elis (KNUST VC) recently held discussions with UTAG and had proposed an alternative approach to resolving the issue of which UTAG had welcomed the idea and we are in the waiting.

The re-opening of the public universities lies squarely in the hands of the management of the universities but not UTAG.

Government’s announcement that the universities should re-open on August 27, 2014 has nothing to do with UTAG’s issue.

Dr Samuel A. Atintono

(UTAG Secretary)

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has endorsed the strike embarked on by the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) to demand payment for their book and research allowances for the 2013/2014 academic year.

UTAG also declared that it might no longer be able to contain the mounting pressure from its members to embark on a similar action “if the government does not move away from its current lack of urgency and slow-pace attitude towards resolving the problem”.

In a statement issued yesterday and copied to the Daily Graphic, UTAG said the issue of the allowances was of mutual interest to it, adding, “We, therefore, wish to state that UTAG is in full support of POTAG's strike and may soon follow suit if the government continues to refuse to address the issue with the urgency that it deserves.”

According to the university teachers, although they had agreed to the decision by the National Labour Commission (NLC) to go for voluntary arbitration on the same issue, it considered POTAG's decision to embark on a strike in demand for the book and research allowances for the 20131/2014 academic year as appropriate and legitimate. 

“POTAG’s action is appropriate because the NLC failed to respond to a letter of intent to strike sent to it by POTAG, culminating in the strike,” the statement, issued by the UTAG President, Dr Samuel Ofori Bekoe, said.

Angered by Ablakwa’s statement

UTAG expressed its disagreement with a recent press statement made by the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that the payment of the book and research allowances for the 20131/2014 academic year was not delayed and that they would be paid in September this year. 

“For the records, UTAG wishes to make it clear that the allowances are usually paid at the beginning of every academic year (August/September). However, for reasons best known to the government, the allowances had, in the past few years, often been delayed and paid at the end of the academic year (June or July),” it said. 

UTAG also stated that if the government delayed the payment of the book and research allowances for the 20131/2014 academic year till September 2014, then it should be prepared to pay for two academic years, 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.

 It added that its members would no longer be in a position to pre-finance any activities which were supported by the book and research allowances.

Commitment

UTAG, however, said it was still committed to resolving the issue in a peaceful way and urged the government to pay the book and research allowances to both POTAG and UTAG members as a matter of urgency in order to prevent any further disruption to the academic calendars of both the polytechnics and the universities, especially for the 2014/2015 academic year.