It is quite inconsequential for University Teachers Association Of Ghana(UTAG), Government and the National Labour Commission to trade the academics of university students over their petty ”war’ which can easily be resolved instead of the lack of an amicable resolution. The UTAG strike which commenced on 2nd August has led to the dormancy and halt of all academic related activities across the thirteen(13) UTAG member universities with an additional suspension of exams on the campus of University of Ghana(UG) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST).
Why is it that Government cannot compromise and address the concerns of the aggrieved party(UTAG) in an amicable resolution after close to 2 weeks of strike.
On 2nd August, 2021, the University Teachers Association Of Ghana(UTAG) commenced their strike across their thirteen(13) member universities in the country over the quest for the restoration of the conditions of service agreed upon with the government in 2012.
According to UTAG president, Professor Charles Marfo, the agreement with government with the coming in force of the single spine salary structure in 2012 meant that an entry-level lecturer will receive the Ghana cedi equivalent of $2,084. They contend that successive governments have been paying lecturers lesser than that. According to UTAG President, ”At the beginning of 2020, the entry gross salary (basic salary plus market premium) of a lecturer in the Public Universities was $997.84(¢5,687) far less than the $1,500 per month that was reached at the end of the road map in 2008 and further improved with the SSSS in 2012 to $2,084.42.”
First of all, the National Labour Commission(NLC) seems to have failed in their quest to amicably address the UTAG strike. This is because since UTAG is not willing to call off their strike anytime soon until their demands are met, it is quite unfortunate for National Labour Commission(NLC) to threaten UTAG with a lawsuit instead of trying to mediate between UTAG and Government for a quick resolution for academic calendar to continue. Among the duties of NLC they have a core mandate to facilitate the settlement of industrial disputes, settle industrial disputes, investigate unfair labour practices, prevent labour disputes and promote cooperation between workers and government(management) which they have failed to leave up to expectation.
Government on the other hand looks a bit uncommitted towards the resolving of the strike as soon as possible which is a bit weird because they have the ultimate mandate which can see to the ending of the strike if they want. The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko-Brobbey has indicated to the media that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations , the Education Minister and the Finance Minister are all poised to resolve the strike by sitting together only if the strike is called off and then they can come to the table to continue to talk. The question is if UTAG fails to call off the strike for one year will the government still be waiting for that duration until they start a proper negotiation?
The governmental approach to the strike is weak and unacceptable because after close to two weeks of the strike the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations , the Education Minister and the Finance Minister have not been able to come to the center table to give some sort of assurance and hope to the lecturers for the strike to be cancelled. UTAG can call off their strike but the question is will they show much committed to the academic process? and that is a big NO if their grievance are not addressed. The mandated ministries must sit-up and make sure that the strike is cancelled and the concerns of UTAG are properly addressed as soon as possible
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations , the Education Minister, the Finance Minister and the Nation Labour Commision will be labelled as a clear failure if they are unable to amicably resolve the strike by UTAG after the month of August.
Article By: Osman Nuhu /Ghanaontheglobe.com