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After UTAG strike...

BY: Daily Graphic
File photo
File photo

Students in public universities and their parents can now heave a sigh of relief as lecturers have returned to the lecture halls, and academic work is in full swing.

As we officially welcome the lecturers back to the lecture halls, it is our conviction that they will be able to make up for the about nine weeks lost to the strike.

We are aware that this will seriously stretch both lecturers and students as they race against time to meet timelines.

This is particularly critical for the levels 300 and 400 students, who were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted academic work for the 2020/21 academic year.

Although tertiary institutions resorted to online lectures, that could not have been very effective because of our peculiar internet challenges.

The Daily Graphic is sure that we as a people - government, lecturers, parents and students - have learnt some lessons, which must guide us into the future.

Some of the lessons might have been bitter and others tough but in all, the biggest lesson for us as a newspaper is that, in everything, we need cool heads, listening ears and above all, consensus building.

Entrenched positions only prolong matters, muddy the waters and breed antagonism, resentment and hatred.

The question is: What next as the court has ordered the lecturers to go back to the lecture halls and the lecturers have suspended their more than two months’ strike?

The Daily Graphic believes this is the time the employer and the lecturers must meet behind closed doors to iron out all concerns such that those same issues do not rear their ugly heads as academic work takes shape.

We expect the leadership of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the government representatives to initiate the talks immediately to prevent a recurrence.

Each side must show and exhibit transparency and trust in the discussion, and dispassionately trash out all the outstanding issues.

For us, we believe that such issues should be resolved around the table and not in the court.

This is urgent because of the condition under which UTAG suspended the strike indefinitely. UTAG in its letter on the indefinite suspension, stated that “the National Executive Council (NEC) of UTAG appeals to members to remain calm and accept these proposals as interim measures, as it works to ensure that they remain as such and end in December 2022.”

Clearly, this means that the strike is not over until it is over because UTAG remains committed to carrying through its demands over the issues by the end of the year and that is why the Daily Graphic believes that discussions must kick-start immediately. Such industrial actions, especially, on the education front is not healthy for academic work because the limited time used for the academic work after such strikes has the potential of turning out half-baked graduates.

This surely has a ripple effect on the output of the graduates and consequently on the economy. The Daily Graphic is not too comfortable that such agitations on the labour front often end inconclusively only to resurface even more forcefully. We need a conducive industrial environment to accelerate the national development agenda.