The Ministry of Education (MoE) has described the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) as being “unreasonable” in their stance not to return to the classroom until the government pays them the market premium as well as the Book and Research Allowance.
The Association on October 29 declared an indefinite sit-down strike after failed attempts to reach an agreement with government on a road map to the payment of the arrears.
The government accused CETAG of “bad faith” and declared the strike illegal.
Consequently, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NTCE) directed all principals of the teacher training colleges not to validate the November salaries of the striking CETAG members.
But CETAG did not budge. Members in turn called the decision by government to freeze their salaries “illegitimate and illegal”, noting government does not have the right to declare their strike illegal.
Twenty-one days into the strike, CETAG has resolved not to engage the government again in negotiations until their November salaries are paid, an action that could lead to the closure of the colleges.
The Head of Public Relations Unit of the Ministry of Education, Ekow Vincent Assafua, finds the development disappointing.
“And that’s where I reiterate my point that CETAG is being disingenuous and unreasonable,” he said on TV3’s Midday Live Wednesday, November 28.
According to Mr Assafua, he does not think there is a better way of managing the situation than for CETAG to return to the classroom while preparations are made to reopen negotiations on the full payment of their entitlements next year.
Will the Colleges be closed?
He acknowledged that teacher training colleges have since 2012 been elevated to the status of tertiary institutions, on which basis CETAG is demanding a corresponding remuneration, but maintained that “this government cannot answer for the inabilities of the previous administration’s failure”.
He added Akufo-Addo-led NPP government is committed to paying the market premium and all entitlements of CETAG but expressed disappointment at the stance of the Association.
Mr. Assafua said the closure of the training colleges is “almost imminent”, explaining that by convention the schools should be closed after 21 days of inactivity, but wants stakeholders to intervene for CETAG to return to the classroom to save the teacher trainees.
Will CETAG be paid November Salaries?
Meanwhile, the government is still standing its grounds not to pay CETAG their November salaries.
Mr. Assafua claimed that the National Labour Commission had declared CETAG’s strike illegal, for which reason they cannot be pay for no work done.
“They are not going to be paid and what it means is that we are not going to validate because government believes that they are not going to be paid for no work done,” he explained.
What is civil society saying?
The Institute for Education Studies (IFEST), a civil society group in education, has called on both parties to be measured in their language so as not to escalate issues.
IFEST’s Executive Director, Peter Party Anti, noted it is important for both parties to soften their stance to make a head way.
It is his hope that CETAG will call off the strike and return to the negotiation table.
By P.D Wedam|3news.com|Ghana