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Take steps to address UTAG concerns - GFL appeals to government

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
General Secretary of the GFL, Mr Abraham Koomson
General Secretary of the GFL, Mr Abraham Koomson

The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has appealed to the government to respond positively to the demands of lecturers in public universities who have been on strike over market premium and research allowances for almost three weeks now.

The lecturers have been on strike since January 10, with the public universities risking an imminent shutdown if there is no resolution to the concerns of the lecturers.

In that regard, the General Secretary of the GFL, Mr Abraham Koomson, noted that the grievances over market premium and research allowances had persisted for a long time and needed to be addressed for the lecturers to return to the lecture halls.

Negative impact

Speaking to GraphicOnline today (January 27), he said the GFL was aware that the government reneged on its commitment to address the concerns of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) since last year.

"The GFL is monitoring with grave concern the adamant approach to resolving the recurring labour agitations among the university lecturers in spite of commitments made last year to give space to the government to honour its pledge to address the grievances.

"The development, especially in the wake of the already negative impact of COVID-19 on smooth academic work is indeed disturbing," he said.

He said it was important to address the concerns of UTAG as a matter of urgency to mitigate the negative impact the strike was having on parents and students.

He said a speedy resolution of the issue was not negotiable because while the tango between the government and the university lecturers persisted, it was the students and parents who suffered the most.

"GFL is aware of the concerns of parents who have spent resources in these difficult times to rent accommodation facilities and pay for feeding and academic fees of their wards who are now left to their fate on campuses," he said.

Take responsibility

The GFL General Secretary observed that the agitation by the lecturers appeared to have been aggravated by public pronouncements by officials of the National Labour Commission (NLC), thus, courting the anger of the aggrieved lecturers.

He called on the government and the NLC to take into cognisance the duty to negotiate in good faith under section 97 of Act 651.

"We appeal to the government to comply with Section 97 of the Act to build trust and confidence in the process of negotiations to curtail these incessant public sector strikes which negatively affect the economy and the people," he added.

Mr Koomson said strict compliance with Section 97 of the Labour Act, 2003, Act 651 would help to address the strike by public sector workers.

Background

UTAG declared an indefinite strike effective Monday, 10 January, this year.

In a communique issued after its emergency meeting, the association said the strike was in response to “the worsening conditions of service (CoS) of the university teacher and the failure of the employer in addressing the plight of UTAG members within the agreed timelines.”

Among other things, UTAG is demanding the Employer to restore members to the 2013 interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114 per cent of basic salary in the interim while the government goes on to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the conditions of service of the university teachers.