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Technical University (TU) teachers are on strike on three main dimensions; (a) wrongful but deliberate application of an amended law in retrospection, (b) lack of will and blatant failure on the part of government to pay without any excuse, University Salaries to Technical University Teachers, and (c) Government’s deception and neglect for the lawful effective date of migration of Senior Members of TUs onto the Public University Salary Structure.
(a) Wrongful but deliberate application of an amended law in retrospection
In 2016, six (6) polytechnics were lawfully (by the Technical University Act 2016 (ACT 922)) converted to full-fledged Public Universities to offer improved Competency Based Training for our future leaders who gained admission to pursue same. Section 42 (6) of Act 922 states among others that, “A person in the Employment of a Polytechnic in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act, shall be deemed to have been duly employed by the respective Technical University established under this Act.” Senior Members in these six (6) Technical Universities therefore started work in this new spirit until an amendment (Technical University (Amendment) Act 2018 (ACT 974)) was passed by Parliament in 2018. The act was to consider among other things the conversion of two polytechnics which had qualified per the requirement for conversion. Section 6 of Act 974 states “A person in the Employment of a Polytechnic in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act, shall, subject to the requirements of the Standardized Statutes and Scheme of Service for the Technical University, be deemed to have been duly employed by the respective Technical University established under this Act.” The two polytechnics that were converted by Act 974 currently have no problem with National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) enforcing fully the insertion, “subject to the requirements of the Standardized Statutes and Scheme of Service for the Technical University” and therefore subjecting their Senior Members to a Staff Audit.
The simple question is whether or not it was honesty that drove the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to institute a Staff Audit for the first six institutions which as at the coming into force of Act 974 were not polytechnics but had successfully existed two (2) years as Technical Universities, lawfully and legitimately so, by Act 922 passed in 2016. We have tried to bring to the attention of NCTE the “bad mind” behind their actions but as was predictable, they have failed to offer any explanation to their disregard for Act 922 passed in 2016. I wish to urge the leadership of TUTAG to freely proceed to the Supreme Court of Ghana for Our Lord Justices to properly offer clarity on the convenience of abuse being exhibited by NCTE.
The worst case is that without any response to petitions from the few members that were downgraded by NCTE’s Staff Audit, NCTE has gone ahead to reduce ranks of some staff and has given all the excuses carefully crafted to delay the migration of the many qualified Senior Members onto the Public University Salary Structure. Currently, we are well aware that the National Accreditation Board (NAB) has since June 2019 reviewed and cleared many of our members whose certificates were earlier flagged by their illegal Staff Audit. NCTE has deliberately declined to release the final report to managements of the TUs so that downgraded staff are reinstated. This is dishonesty in its highest order, mischievous and absence of humility to swallow pride and accept defeat. So long as NCTE refuses to submit the full revised report on the work completed by NAB, and our downgraded members remain not reinstated, TUTAG shall continue to fight until justice is seen to have been served.
(b) Failure of Government to pay without any excuse, University Salaries to Technical University Teachers
Even though it remains public knowledge that in 2016 and 2018, six (6) and two (2) public universities respectively had duly been added to the list of Public Universities in Ghana, government has shamefully resorted to endless excuses to deny lecturers of these universities their sacred due in terms of salaries and allowances. I beg to submit that where there is a will, there will not exist any stress or difficulty as to what amount be given to TU lecturers when it is quite obvious that many universities already exist and are paid by Government every month. I literally wept for our dear country when two women representing Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), appearing very honest, said in a meeting that they do not know the exact salaries and allowances due Senior Members of Public Universities. When the Employment Ministry intervened, the FWSC came up with some allowances averaging 42 percent less than what our counterparts in other universities are taking. How do Senior Members of TUs stop the fight and struggle in the face of this broad day discrimination and injustice…?? I mean How…??
The explanations given by FWSC to this scam was even more ridiculous; that very soon the amounts being taken as allowances by our sister public universities are going to be reduced by an average 42 percent less than what they are being paid now and that the amounts they have enjoyed for many years, paid by the same government, are illegal and unapproved.
We wish to assure government that we are well awake to their lack of will to do the needful. We shall resist any form of second-tier public university sneaked in, in any shape or form. We shall fiercely reject any payments made with all allowances due (ie Responsibility, Entertainment, Car Maintenance, Electricity, Rent, Off Campus and Security) that are less than what University for Professional Studies (UPSA), University for Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and University of Energy and Renewable Resources currently take. Government need not expressly describe payments to these sister universities as illegal and unapproved while in fact they have kept on paying the same amounts for many years. In law, a person or entity can approve an action by expressly stating so or by conduct. Once government supervised such payments to the Public Universities, it is conclusive evidence that government approved those payments by acquiescence. The level of dishonesty is just too unbearable. Time to resist these shameful lies is now…and TUTAG shall continue to fight until justice is seen to have been served.
(c) Government’s deception and neglect for the lawful effective date of Migration of Senior Members of TUs onto the Public University Salary Structure
There are three possible dates for the full migration of Senior Members of TUs onto the Public University Salary Structure but only one true effective date. During the 2018/2019 academic year, NCTE effected payments of Book and Research Allowance for public institutions concerned using public university rates. This included TUs because they were finally satisfied that TUs were now full universities. Even though most of the TUs were converted in 2016, we did in the interest of peace, accept the decision to fully recognise us as so in 2018. No seriousness was shown by government in implementing our full migration onto the Public University Salary Structure in the 2018/2019 academic year. However, in December 2018, the Minister for Education instructed the relevant stakeholders (FWSC, NCTE) to “immediately” implement our full migration onto the Public University Salary Structure. Again, these institutions cooked one excuse or the other to deny TUs. Then in August 2019, the Ministry of Finance also instructed CAGD to implement the migration of TUs, an instruction which they obeyed with dishonesty and cheap excuses, hence the declaration of the industrial action by TUTAG. I wish to draw government’s attention to the fact that though we were converted in 2016 hence the effective date for full migration should technically be from 2016, we know practical financial conditions may not enable the payment of all arrears from that date. However, we shall vehemently resist any attempt to deceitfully change the effective date for migration from August 2018 to any other date. We shall consider any such action from government as insensitive and disrespect for the work we do as lecturers and that we shall fight to preserve.
Many critics of the Akuffo Addo – led government have mentioned times without number, the NPP government’s lack of belief in the Technical University Concept. We humbly plead that more zeal and hard work should be invested in the move to resolve the challenges exposed in this article if they care about the “bad name” they are creating for themselves through the dishonesty that continues to dominate matters affecting the Technical Universities.
We are however grateful to the Employment and Labour Relations Ministry for the extreme sincerity and fair moderation of our engagements with the “can’t be trusted” stakeholders (ie. NCTE, FWSC) who have offered many excuses so far instead of offering the very present solutions to the demands of Senior Members of Technical Universities in Ghana.
The Hon. Bright Wireko Brobbey (Deputy Minister – MELR) deserves a special mention for his appreciation of our genuine demands and for offering TUTAG fair and sincere hearings. We hope to fight and win this war against Dishonesty, Unfairness, Cheating, and Inequality being meted to us as soon as practicable. Until then, TUTAG shall continue to fight until justice is seen to have been served.
Dr. Sarpong A. Smart|3news.com|Ghana
The writer is a professional a Statistician / Data and Data Analysis Consultant and Senior Research Fellow – CSSR, Kumasi Technical University