UTAG suspends industrial action

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The University Teachers Asscoiation of Ghana (UTAG) has decided to suspend its strike following a meeting with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and Vice-Chancellors, Ghana.

During the meeting Monday, a plan for the payment of arrears for 2012 to the university teachers was tabled and upon that basis the teachers decided to suspend their action while considering the proposal.

The Branch President of UTAG, Legon, Mr L. Bimi, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic however, said the schedule would be discussed with constituents and the outcome communicated.

The Minister of Employment and Labour relations, Nii Armah Ashitey, when contacted earlier, would not divulge anything except to say, "we are still in the meeting."

Sources at the meeting, however, said UTAG could not hold on to its stance of full payment of all arrears immediately, since other professionals had already agreed to a staggered payment of arrears, while the governments's White Paper on market premiums settled concerns of UTAG on the issue.

UTAG embarked on a strike action on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 to back its demands.

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In addition, UTAG also demanded that an agreed market premium factor be applied to the current basic salary, that is, the basic salary for 2012, as the appropriate restoration in accordance with an  earlier communiqué on the issue between itself and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).

A meeting called at the instance of the Chief of Staff,  Mr Prosper Douglas Kweku Bani and other government representatives, on one side, and the National Executive of  UTAG on the other on Wednesday, April 3, 2014 to resolve the  industrial action by the lecturers ended inconclusively.

A proposal by the government to pay the arrears in three tranches, that is, in May, July and September, was rejected by the association, which rather demanded for the arrears to be paid in full and immediately.

UTAG's industrial action came on the heels of a similar one by doctors.

However, on Thursday, April 11, 2011, an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Employment & Labour Relations, Ministry of Finance and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) on the one hand, and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on the other hand, in the presence of the leadership of Organised Labour on the resolution of the strike by the GMA.

The memorandum of understanding signed to that effect by Mr Ashitey, representing the government; Dr Alhassan Iddrisu, acting Director, Economic Research and Forecasting Division; Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei of the GMA and Mr Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), stated that the  2012, market premium arrears would be paid in May,  July,  and September, 2013.

They also agreed two months arrears of the January to April 2013 market premium arrears would be paid in June, while the other two months, March and April would be paid in August 2013.

The MOU further stated that from May, 2013, the market premium would be based on 2O12 basic salary in line with the Government's White Paper on Guidelines on the Market Premium.

Story: Caroline Boateng