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Court to rule on UTAG strike, March 9

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Court to rule on UTAG strike, March 9
Court to rule on UTAG strike, March 9

The Labour Division of the Accra High Court will on March 9, 2022, rule on the legality of the strike embarked by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG).

The court, presided over by Justice Frank Abodwe Rockson, fixed the date for ruling Tuesday, February 22 after hearing arguments from lawyers for the National Labour Commission (NLC) and UTAG.

As the statutory body mandated to mediate and resolve labour disputes, the NLC, on January 13, 2022, directed UTAG to resume work, and avail itself for demonstration, on the basis that the strike was in violation of the law and procedures for embarking on strikes.

The NLC therefore filed the court case for the High Court to enforce its directive per Section 172 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).

It is also asking the court to order UTAG to call off the strike and also prohibit the labour union from going ahead with the strike while it negotiates with the government.

Arguments

Moving the application Tuesday, counsel for the NLC, Ms Effiba Amihere, contended that UTAG failed to inform the NLC as prescribed by Act 651 before embarking on the strike.

According to her, UTAG claimed it served the notice on one Lydi, but the said Lydia was not a staff of the NLC.

“The strike by UTAG did not follow due process and violated the Labour Act,” counsel argued.

In his response, counsel for UTAG, Mr Kwasi Keli-Delata, opposed the application for enforcement, and argued that the NLC wrote to UTAG when it heard about UTAG complaining about certain grievances.

He said per law the NLC should had given UTAG 14 days to respond before calling all the parties to appear before it for negotiations.

“The NLC did not give UTAG a hearing and that is against the rule of natural justice. The application is unmeritorious and incapable of judicial enforcement,” counsel submitted.

Injunction

On February 15, 2022, the court put an injunction on the strike after it upheld an interlocutory application NLC.

The NLC filed the application for an order of the High Court to enforce its (NLC) directive for UTAG to call of its strike and return to the negotiation table with the government.

Strike

UTAG embarked on the strike on January 10, 2022, calling on the employer (government) to restore its members to the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114 per cent of basic salary.

The labour union also wants the government to go ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the general conditions of service of the university teacher.

It is the case of UTAG that the IMP, which was instituted after the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy, is frozen, per a government White Paper in 2013, for the purpose of the conduct of a labour market survey (LMS) to determine the IMP payable to workers deserving of it.

UTAG contends that till date, the determination has not been made, which has resulted in the erosion of the university teacher’s salary.

The NLC, the statutory body mandated to mediate and resolve labour disputes, on January 13, this year, directed UTAG to resume work, on the basis that it was in violation of the law and procedures for embarking on strikes.

It further directed UTAG to formally submit issues it said were in dispute with the government for redress and report back to the commission on February 6, 2022.

However, UTAG disregarded the NLC directive and sustained the strike it started on January 10.

The NLC, therefore, filed an application at the High Court for the enforcement of its directive, in line with Section 172 of Act 651.

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