NAGRAT president on why Tuesday’s meeting to address teachers’ strike failed (Audio)

BY: Isaac Yeboah
Angel Carbonu, President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers
Angel Carbonu, President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers

President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers, Angel Carbonu has given an account of why a meeting between orgainsed labour and government on Tuesday to resolve the ongoing strike by members of teacher unions failed to achieve anything.

He told Citi FM that government, which attended the scheduled meeting with a full force of ministers and deputies from institutions associated with the matter, appeared unprepared to do business with organised labour.

Click on the play button to listen to Angel Carbonu.

The audio is transcribed below.

“In fact, yesterday was one of the saddest days in my life.

Before we went for the meeting yesterday, Organised Labour had met at the NAGRAT Lyceum, we had taken some decisions, decisions were even taken in relation to the teacher unions. This issue had been escalated beyond the teacher unions so government was no longer meeting teacher unions, government is meeting organised labour. In fact, I doubt if there was any organised labour group that was not there yesterday.

“We were expecting that government will come and dangle a percentage, we will negotiate, then of course, that percentage would be the basis upon which the teacher unions would also announce that yes, …. depending on how the negotiation goes, we have gotten to this far so we call off this strike and then we continue discussions and so on and so forth. A decision has been made.

“Government came in with all its force - Finance Minister, Security Minister… every… only for them to come and announce that they want to meet the teacher groups separate from the other organised Labour people, and the other organised Labour people were very surprised because, are you now segregating us? People suspected that it was divide and rule so we refused that it is inappropriate. The purpose for this meeting is to meet organised labour and discuss COLA. There is no other agenda on the programme.

“Government refused; that they would not negotiate if any union is on strike, so the question was, are we here to find solutions or we are here to win legal battles? We went into caucus, we asked them to give us five minutes, we got the five minutes, when they went, one-and-half hours they had not returned. Before we realized, a security detail of the Honourable Ministers had come for bags that they left at the meeting, then we realised that no, these people are not coming, they are not going to come back anymore.

“So the teacher unions indicated that if we are the obstacles, if we are the undesirables that is preventing them from negotiating then let us walk out, sanctify the gathering so that they can go on with the negotiation with the other groups because we cannot hold other labour organisations hostage. So we walked out.

“Can you believe this, we walked out, information we got that even they had not returned so other unions started going, that is what happened yesterday.”