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GNAT on why members will not pay rent for occupying govt bungalows

BY: Graphic.com.gh
GNAT on why members will not pay rent for occupying govt bungalows
Thomas Musah, the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT)

The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) is insisting that its members will not pay for occupying government bungalows, contrary to a directive by the Ghana Education Service (GES).

According to GNAT, the move was indicative that GES was trying to renege on stipulations in the Collective Agreement.

GNAT has therefore cautioned that going ahead to deduct the proposed 10 percent from salaries of teachers and staff occupying government bungalows from March 1, 2022 would amount to a breach of the Management - Union trust, and an unfair labour practice.

"We sounded notice, that any attempt to implement the directive would be resisted fiercely, and may lead to rocking the industrial peace on the educational front, hence the Ghana Education Service should withdraw it."

Below is a copy of the full statement dated March 17, 2022 issued by GNAT

THE RUMPUS OVER THE GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE'S DIRECTIVE ON PAYMENT OF RENT BY STAFF OF GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE OCCUPYING GOVERNMENT BUNGALOWS: THE ISSUE IN PERSPECTIVE

Early last week, the attention of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, GNAT, was drawn to a circular titled Payment of Rent for Occupying School/Government Bungalows issued by the Western Regional Director of Educaton, Felicia Agyeibea Okai (Mrs), dated 11th March 2022, directed to all Metro/Municipal District Directors of Education (Western), all Heads of Senior High Schools (Western), and in essence applicable to all the Regional Directorates of Education in Ghana, informing all Teachers/Staff occupying School/Government bungalows), that effective 1st March, 2022, (they) are to pay 10% of their basic salary (as rent).

The Ghana National Association of Teachers, GNAT, found this directive unfortunate, and in a reaction, expressed its dismay with it, since it was against the spirit and letter of the Collective Agreement enacted between the Ghana Education Service and the Teacher Unions in the Education Service (on behalf of All Teaching Employees in the Ghana Education Service, 2009) and the Collective Agreement for Teaching Staff within the Ghana Education Service (GES), August 2020.

We quoted relevant Sections of the two documents (viz Section 21(1) of the Collective Agreement, 2009, and Section 19 of the Collective Agreement, August 2020 which both deal with Staff Accommodation and enjoin the Ghana Education Service, without equivocation, to provide free residential accommodation (emphasised) for the following category of staff: Headmasters, Assistant Headmasters, Senior Housemasters, Housemasters, Principals, Vice Principals, Headteachers, Assistant Headteachers, Frontline ADs and Guidance and Counseling Officers in 2nd Cycle Institutions, Chaplains and Imams in Second Cycle Institutions, and that, where there is no residential accommodation, the Service shall be responsible for rents of the officers) concerned, and, the same shall apply to Directors at the District, Regional/Divisional levels.

In the light of the above, we wondered whether the Ghana Education Service, by the Western Regional Director's circular, was not reneging on stipulations in the Collective Agreement, and cautioned that doing so would not hold, since it would amount to a breach of Management - Union trust, and an unfair labour practice.

We sounded notice, that any attempt to implement the directive would be resisted fiercely, and may lead to rocking the industrial peace on the educational front, hence the Ghana Education Service should withdraw it.

The Ghana Education Service responded to our press release with a counter press release dated 16th March, 2022, in which it stated, among other things that the Western Regional Director's letter (of) 11th March, 2022 was based on the recommendation of External Auditors and the directives of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, that GES should charge the appropriate rent on Staff who occupy Government bungalaws as official accommodation, that, it is not the GES which is imposing the rent or determining how much is to be paid, but purely being guided by the Ministry of Finance's circular and the admonitions of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.

We wish to remind the Ghana Education Service once again, that its relationship with the teaching staff is premised on the Collective Agreement which the Labour Act, 2003, Act 651, defines in Section 105 (1) as an agreement concluded by a trade union through a standing negotiating committee, or a joint standing committee whose terms shall apply to all workers of the class specifed in the certificate, and whose provisions concerning the terms of employment and termination of employment and personal obligations imposed on, and nights granted to a worker or employer shall be regarded as (Section 105(2)) terms of a contract of employment between each worker and his or her employer.

Section 105(3) states further, that the terms of contract of employment shall continue to have effect so long as they have not been varied by agreement of the parties, that (Section 105(4)) the rights conferred on & worker by a Collective Agreement shall not be waived if there is conflict between the terms of a Collective Agreement and the terms of any contract not contained in the Collective Agreement, and that (Section 105(4) still), the Collective Agreement shall prevail, unless the terms of the contract are more favourable to the worker, and it is immaterial whether or not the contract was concluded before the Collective Agreement.

We are aware, the Ghana Education Service is aware of the above stipulations, and therefore find it strange that it is reneging on them, without consultation with the Unions, and finding solace and cover under a Ministry of Finance circular, and admonitions of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, to the disadvantage of the Collective Agreement which has been the mutual bedrock of the relationship between both parties; and contrary to Section 2.2 of the Collective Agreement, which states that the Employer and the Union who were involved in the negotiation of (the) Agreement (should not be) anti-Union or anti-management but (be) sincerely concerned with the best interest and well-being of the GES and all teaching employees, as well as create an environment that provides satisfaction, incentives and motivation for hard work, and thereby increase productivity. And this is really unfortunate!

Cognisant of the above, the Ghana National Association of Teachers, GNAT, finds the Management of GES" full endorsement of the Western Regional Director's circular offensive, and distasteful, since it goes against the spirit and letter of both the Collective Agreement, and the Labour Act. 2003, Act 651.

We therefore demand, again, that the Ghana Education Service withdraw this payment of 10% rent by the Category of Staff occupying School/Government bungalows, as covered under the Western Regional Director's circular.

Anything short of it, we caution, could be tisky, and we may not be able to contain it
On the Collective Agreement we stand!

ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE, GNAT