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Teachers’ groups threaten industrial action

BY: Vincent Amenuveve & Andrews Tetteh

Trouble is brewing on the education front as two teachers’ groups have threatened to embark on strike to back their demands for the upward adjustment of their salary and payment of entitlements owed them by the government.

The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) have resolved to stay away from the classroom in their quest to claim what is due them.

In Takoradi, GNAT threatened to go on strike if the government did not show commitment to pay teachers, what they described as their legitimate entitlements and arrears for more than three years, while in Bolgatanga, the Upper East regional branch of NAGRAT has threatened to hit the streets on Friday, July 25, to compel the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly to sign documents for the upward adjustment of their salaries and other conditions of service.

The threat by the two teacher bodies comes at a time members of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) are on strike due to government’s inability to pay their research and book allowances, compelling the polytechnics to close down.

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The case of GNAT

According to the Deputy General Secretary of GNAT, Mr Thomas Baafi, teachers who had been transferred for more than three years had not received their transfer entitlement due them.

He was speaking at the closing ceremony of an in-service workshop organised by the GNAT and the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF).

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Mr Baafi called on the Regional and District Directors of Education to suspend the transfers of teachers until the Ghana Education Service (GES) had obtained financial clearance from the Ministry of Finance.

He said the inability of the GES to secure financial clearance from the ministry had resulted in teachers being transferred without the payment of their entitlements.

“While we know that it is the right of the employer to deploy employees to where their services are needed, employees’ right to claim their legitimate entitlements should not be stifled,” he said.

“As a labour union, the GNAT is taking pragmatic steps to promote high quality education; however, the government and the GES have failed to provide the needed educational inputs that will make teaching enjoyable,” he added.

The workshop

The workshop was organised to train more than 800 teachers in the Western Region on 10 key subject areas, including Mathematics, English, Technology and Science, and Social Studies.

Teachers in deprived communities were also given a special training to improve their teaching and learning skills.

The president of GNAT, Mr Paul Agyei Boakye,  urged the teachers to practise what they had been thought to ensure that the standard of education was improved.

He said teachers had attracted negative media attention in the past and that in championing the cause of teachers for quality education and brighter future, the GNAT would not be enthused by such negative commentary.

The case of NAGRAT

According to NAGRAT, "the refusal of the assembly to sign the document known as the Establishment Warrants of teachers in the Municipality is affecting their conditions of service including promotions, up-grading and incremental credits due them".

At a Press conference at Bolgatanga, the Regional Chairman of NAGRAT, Mr Michael Akanvibe, explained that the assembly needed to sign its portion of the document to enable graduate teachers access better remuneration due them.

Black Friday

He warned that members of NAGRAT would embark on a series of demonstrations code-named "Black Friday" until their grievances were addressed.

"Should our problem not be resolved thereafter, we shall embark on demonstration every Friday dubbed ‘Black Friday’ to occupy the Municipal Assembly until the problem is resolved; we shall also present a petition to the regional minister for his attention on Friday, July 25, 2014," the chairman stressed.

He expressed regret that "the assembly has done rather very little to motivate teachers, yet they seek to take away teachers' rights to better conditions of service".

"We wish to remind the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, especially the Finance Officer, that taking the actions in the manner they have done does not ensure peace in our already deplorable education in the municipality," he said.