UTAG strike: If the employee is not happy, the best is to resign – Earl Ankrah

The Head of Public Affairs at the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), Mr. Earl Ankrah has told members of the Universities Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) that they cannot continue striking while negotiations are underway.

He asked them to call off the strike.

Speaking on the Sunrise show on 3FM with host Alfred Ocansey on Thursday January 13, he said “You can not negotiate while you are on strike so they must call off the strike before they can engage. That is what the Labour Commission will recommend per the law.

He added ” If the employee is not happy with anything, the best thing is to resign.”

UTAG started their industrial action on Monday January 10.

This is as a result of the failure of the government to resolve their issues.

A statement they issued on Saturday January 8 said “We must also point out the fact that, generally our members have decried the pittance agreed to be paid as annual research allowance and would want to have government to reconsider the payment of a more
realistic research allowance as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.

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“For the reasons stated above, the NEC of UTAG at its meeting held on 7th January 2022 reiterated its resolve to follow through with the decision to withdraw teaching and related activities until further notice with effect from Monday, 10th January 2022 and call on all UTAG members across the fifteen (15) branches to observe this directive.COMMUNIQUE-UTAG-STRIKEDownload

“As a matter of urgency, we also call on the Employer to restore members to the 2013 IMP of 114% of Basic Salary in the interim whilst Government goes ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the CoS of the University Teacher. Following the uneasiness among UTAG members, any delay by the Employer would further exacerbate
the already fragile academic calendar to the detriment of all stakeholders.”

The statement further said that “It may be recalled that the Interim Market Premium (IMP) which was instituted following the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy got frozen, per a Government White Paper, in 2013, for the purpose of the conduct of a LMS to determine a MP payable to workers deserving of it. To date, this determination has not been made, which has resulted in the erosion of the University Teacher’s salary.

“There was the hope that by completing and implementing the Labour Market Survey (LMS) Report of 2019, a review of the IMP would have put the University Teacher on a relatively good salary stead. Regrettably, the recommendations of the 2019 LMS Report without any accompanying technical report on the implementable MP is meaningless to UTAG as it does not address the pertinent issues of improved Condition of Service (CoS).

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“Interestingly however, there was a LMS in 2014 whose Report did not see the light of day and one wonders if the 2019 LMS Report would ever be implemented since it is already two years old. In addition, recommendation (iii) from the 2019 LMS Report states that “Public Services Commission should liaise with educational institutions to prioritise the offering of courses in areas of demand to increase the employment prospects of their graduates and increase the pool of applicants for high vacancies.”

“How can such a National Agenda be attained if the CoS of the University Teacher keeps worsening year on year leading to an ever-increasing attrition rate on our campuses? UTAG members see the timing of the release of the report as one of the usual delay tactics that the Employer has employed over the years, which is unacceptable.”

Mr Earl Ankrah, however said UTAG got the best of services in the agreement they signed in October last year.

He told Alfred Ocansey that “They [UTAG got the best of service in the agreement they signed in October.”

He further revealed that the  Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) that is also on strike failed to show up for a meeting that was scheduled to take place yesterday Wednesday January 12 to discuss the issues.

“CETAG didn’t turn up for the meeting yesterday. We hope that they turn up today. We don’t know if it was a deliberate condition but we will find out today,” he said.

Another scheduled meeting between the National Labour Commission (NLC), on one hand, and the UTAG and FWSC , on the other hand, is today, Thursday, January 13.

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The meeting, called by NLC, was originally scheduled to come off on Wednesday but was delayed by 24 hours upon a request by the university teachers.

The NLC had raised concerns on Monday, January 10, when the lecturers began their strike, saying they should have complied with section 159 of the Act 651.

But section 159 would have caused the Commission to intervene immediately.

Notwithstanding, the NLC said it is committed to resolving the matter.

UTAG’s National Secretary Dr Asare Asante-Annor had contested NLC’s concerns on TV3 but assured that they will be at the meeting.

Each representative is expected to bring not more than two officials due to the coronavirus protocols.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana