Remit GES workers’ contributions to pension scheme — NAGRAT

BY: Arku Jasmine

The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has called on the government and the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to be guided by their responsibilities under the Pensions Act and remit Ghana Education Service (GES) workers’ contributions to the GES Occupational Pension Scheme to manage.
It said by law, the funds belonged to the workers and must be invested accordingly.

“By law the NPRA was to remit the GES workers’ contributions to the scheme. Ten months down the line, the NPRA and the government have refused to remit the workers’ monthly contributions to the scheme to ensure proper investment on behalf of the workers,” the General Secretary of NAGRAT, Mr Stanislus P. Nabome, said at a press conference in Accra on Thursday.

According to him, one major issue which was bringing NAGRAT and, indeed, teachers unions to the brink of unrest was the frustration they (unions) were going through in their attempt to roll out the mandatory occupation-based pension scheme for their members.

In the past three years, he said, teachers unions within the GES, in conjunction with GES management had worked hard to set up a trust, the GES Occupational Pension Scheme.

The trust, Mr Nabome said, had been duly registered by the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to manage the scheme for GES workers since November, 2012.

He also said contrary to the law, the NPRA had arrogated to itself the powers of fund managers and was investing workers’ contributions in cheap investment portfolios that would only worsen the situation of its membership.

Mr Nabome, however, expressed the hope that serious steps would be taken to make the GES’s second-tier pensions work by the end of this month.

He raised concern about education authorities’ inability to address the outstanding issues that resulted in teachers going on strike in March, this year.

The issues are the non-negotiation and payment of incremental credit arrears to teachers who were migrated onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) in 2010, non-payment of vehicle maintenance allowance to qualified teachers in 2012, non-payment of correct salaries and arrears to teachers who have been promoted since 2010 and the non-negotiation of collective agreement between the GES and teacher unions.

Mr Nabome noted that at the time the teachers went on strike from March 18 to 25, 2013, the National Labour Commission (NLC) was very generous in issuing a subpoena to the teacher unions to appear before it.

“Strikes were immediately declared illegal and striking teachers ordered to return to the classrooms. The teachers complied with the directives and rulings of the NLC. However, the rulings of the same commission that the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) should address the concerns of teacher unions in seven days have been ignored with impunity and the NLC is incapable of enforcing compliance by the other parties,” he said.

Mr Nabome, therefore, questioned why the NLC had been selective in enforcing its own directives on the FWSC when it had compelled teachers to return to the classrooms.

By Emmanuel Bonney/Daily Graphic/Ghana