Government appeal to UTAG on point
Government appeal to UTAG on point

Government appeal to UTAG on point

For over two weeks now, members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) have deserted the lecture theatres to back their demand for better conditions of service.

This is crippling effective teaching and learning at universities.

It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this tango, where there seems to be no end in sight as far as addressing the impasse between UTAG and the government is concerned.

For us at the Daily Graphic, we consider it very imperative for all persuasive measures to be put in place to allow for effective teaching and learning to take place in our public universities and end the current frustrations our students are currently going through, staying on campus.

It is for this reason, we consider the appeal by the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) to members of UTAG to go back to the lecture halls while the leadership returns to the negotiation table as a first important step to addressing their concerns.

According to the commission, their appeal was premised on the fact that UTAG had to be seen to be respecting the lawful authority of the mediator, the National Labour Commission (NLC), even if it had any misgivings about it.

Since the law does not permit any party to be on strike while at the negotiating table, the NLC explained that a better way the impasse could be addressed was for UTAG to rescind their decision and go back to the negotiating table.

In the light of this, GTEC is of the view that the NLC directive, far from gagging UTAG, was an intervention to resolve the impasse.

We are aware of the directive to both UTAG and the government by NLC to use a maximum of one month to settle the residual issues through negotiations and report back to the commission.

This will only yield desired results when there is good faith and transparency during the negotiation.

We note that UTAG has been demanding of government to restore its members to the 2013 interim market premium (IMP) of 114 per cent of basic salary, while going ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the condition of service of the university teacher. Since then, what has been happening?

The Daily Graphic finds the entrenched positions as troubling because caught up in the milieu are innocent students, especially freshers, who reported to campus only to be welcomed with the strike action by their lecturers.

The government side believes it has shown good faith with the lecturers, especially when it has approved a number of allowances including the consistent annual increment of the research grant since 2019 from GH¢500 to the current GH¢6,000 in 2022 with a projected GH¢8,000 in 2023 and the cedi equivalent of $1,600 in 2024 for each lecturer, as well as the approval of $1,500 as book allowance to each lecturer.

So being the case, and notwithstanding the pain of UTAG, we want to join GTEC to appeal to the lecturers to go back to the lecture halls while their leadership goes back to the negotiation table.

We at the Daily Graphic know that the market premium is work in progress; nonetheless, we also want to call on the government to quicken its steps to resolve the impasse with UTAG.

Relatedly, we note with satisfaction that at least, the Labour Market Survey (LMS) Report of 2019 is out and UTAG has a copy to review, make its input and return it for incorporation.

We further see this move as a positive step towards resolving this longstanding issue of market premium and, therefore, expect that the government makes the needed effort for implementation.

The position of UTAG on this matter may be understandable that the LMS in 2014 Report, according to UTAG, did not see the light of day and is, therefore, not sure the 2019 LMS Report would ever be implemented, especially when it is already two years old.

It is for this reason that we have consistently called for good faith, honesty and transparency by the two parties - UTAG and the government - to end this brouhaha once and for all.

UTAG may have a case, but for the sake of our children, we appeal to its members to temper justice with mercy and resume lectures.

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