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Government, teacher unions’ meeting ends in deadlock

BY: Mary Anane-Amponsah
Ignatius Baffour-Awuah (standing) interacting with participants at the meeting between the government and striking teacher unions/TUC yesterday
Ignatius Baffour-Awuah (standing) interacting with participants at the meeting between the government and striking teacher unions/TUC yesterday

A meeting called by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in Accra yesterday[July 6, 2022] to help resolve issues leading to a nationwide strike by teachers ended in a deadlock.

Consequently, representatives of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the four teacher unions said the strike would continue.

Participants came out of the meeting with disappointment written on their faces when journalists approached them to find out what had transpired at the meeting.

"The strike continues" and "We will be back for further meetings" were some of their responses.

Representing the government side were the Minister of Employment and labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah; the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, and representatives from the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Education Service (GES).

Representing the unions were the leaders of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, Ghana (CCT-GH), as well as the TUC.

Demand

The Deputy General-Secretary of the TUC, Joshua Ansah, who addressed the media, said the meeting was basically about teachers’ demand for cost of living allowance (CoLA), and that they would continue to engage the government to find an amicable solution to the matter.

He said what transpired at the meeting did not meet their expectations and "we will not ask the teacher unions to call off the strike because we are still negotiating”.

“We have not come to a conclusion and so we will engage further in subsequent meetings," he added.

He, however, said more unions would soon join the action by the teachers if the government failed to address the issue of CoLA.

Appeal

The Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko-Brobby, said the government accepted the legitimate concerns of teachers but appealed to the unions to impress upon their members to return to the classroom while negotiations continued.

He said following the declaration of the industrial action by teachers, the government had been proactive in meeting the unions.

The deputy minister, however, said the government needed more time to address the concerns of the aggrieved teachers because “times are hard” due to prevailing global challenges, which he said had affected the country’s economic growth.

“The government is in a very dire situation and we explained to them that times are not too good and, therefore, we plead with them.

“We are saying that they have legitimate concerns, but times are not good, so as and when the situation changes, we will let them know, and it will be very soon,” Mr Wireko-Brobby said.

The government, he further said, was doing its best to address their grievances, so that students and pupils would return to the classroom soon.

Recall

The teacher unions on Monday announced an indefinite strike to press home their demand for the payment of CoLA.

They claimed the government had not acted on the request they made for the payment of the allowance since February this year.

The unions, therefore, gave the government a deadline for the payment of the allowance, which elapsed last Thursday without their demands being met.

The unions explained that their demands had become necessary following the rising cost of living in the country.

The incessant rise in the prices of fuel, goods and services, they said, had rendered the four and the seven per cent salary increments from last year insignificant.