Benjamin Arthur (left), Chief Executive of FWSC, handing over the conditions of service to Prof. Mamudu Akudugu, UTAG National President
Benjamin Arthur (left), Chief Executive of FWSC, handing over the conditions of service to Prof. Mamudu Akudugu, UTAG National President
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Lecturers, govt agree on unified pay structure

The first-ever codified conditions of service that will govern the welfare system and pay structure of public universities in the country has been completed.

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The codified document was signed last weekend in Koforidua between the government, represented by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) and the Vice-Chancellors Ghana (VCs) on the one side, and public university teacher unions – the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) on the other.

Both the government and the unions have described the event as “historic” and a move that would, aside from enhancing the welfare of public university lecturers, also improve on the relationship between the government and the unions in future engagements.

The codified conditions of service is now the accepted baseline document in dealing with conditions of service for all public university lecturers. It, therefore, brings to an end all negotiations between the government and public university teacher unions which at the beginning of the year had been characterised by strike actions on the part of the unions.

The document contained basically the three components of the conditions of service such as the monetary, non-monetary and the internally generated funds (IGF). The monetary aspect would deal with the main base pay, including other statutory allowances, IGF structure, that is, allowances universities generate internally, the stipulated amount the universities would be benefiting from, with the non-monetary covering housing, loan facilities, retirement or leave system, medical conditions and promotion, among others.

The document cuts across all the 15 public universities and harmonises the conditions to be applied the same way in all the universities.

Great feat

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an exclusive interview, the Director of Grievances and Negotiations at FWSC, Professor Charles Adabo Oppong, stated that the parties went through the proposals from UTAG and TUTAG after which modifications were agreed upon in a single document as conditions of service.

“The document largely borders on certain regulations about their work, including leave entitlement, promotion, work and safety, entry requirement for lecturers and the number of hours they were entitled to teach within a week, among others,” Prof. Oppong said.

“This is a great feat,” he added, stating that “It is the first codified condition of service for university teachers in the history of Ghana”. Prof. Oppong explained that previously, the conditions of service for the public university teachers were in different documents which made negotiations a bit difficult but with the latest developments, it would make negotiation much easier as the document would serve as a guide.

Unions’ satisfaction

The National Secretary of UTAG, Dr Eliasu Mumuni, expressed joy about the latest developments and said: “Since UTAG’s inception in the 1960’s this is the first time we have been able to achieve this milestone and our members are happy”.

The conditions of service for the public lecturers, he said, had been very ad hoc in the sense that when the tripartite committee met to determine the base rate and salary increase for workers it ended there, unless UTAG negotiated for other allowances.

Because of that trend, they had not been able to go for something that was comprehensive, Dr Mumuni said, adding that over the six years, that had been the main direction of UTAG and fortunately they had been able to reach the agreement.

“This is very significant for UTAG, generally, because this has become a legally binding document and therefore enforceable,” Dr Mumuni said. It is now a right for union members and no longer a choice system that used to exit, he added.

The UTAG Secretary, who stated that the conditions of service had now become a right said: “It is the enforceable aspect that we are excited about”. Hitherto, Dr Mumuni said, it used to be just the autonomous university system deciding to pay or not to pay, “but now that it is signed with the government, the various management could no longer defer benefits systems to members or refuse to honour them”.

The UTAG National Secretary added that signing an earlier agreement with the government, which was part of the composite agreement, would also deal with inflation trends that deteriorated their market premiums and other allowances.

“The take home for us is making sure that the welfare relating to retirement, leave system, pension, death, and issues relating to the comfort and productivity of a university teacher has been signed into a document that allows current and future executives to take on government and local university management for refusing to implement or go in line with what have been agreed on,” Dr Mumuni stressed.

Context
In Februrary this year, UTAG and TUTAG walked out of negoatiations with the FWSC with threats to embark on a nationwide strike. 
The unions had cited government’s percieved  lackadaisical attitude towards their demand for improved conditions of service.
However, they rescinded their decision to strike when they returned to the negotaition table which has led to successful signing of the codified conditions of service.

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