Labour consultant Kwesi Danso Acheampon has expressed grave concern about what he calls “increasing illegal strikes by public workers in the country”.
Speaking on Joy News Current Affairs Program, pm:EXPRESS on Multitv, he said it was against the law to embark on a strike when there is no deadlock in negotiations; insisting that workers channel their grievances through legitimate means.
“We need to pursue legitimate interests using legitimate means, that is the only way to build industrial relations, too many illegal strikes will throw us into a state of anarchy”
Kwesi Danso Acheampong also attributed abounding illegal strikes to institutional failure and misunderstanding of the law.
According to him institutions must be given free hand to work to in order for them to make binding decisions that are enforceable.
“The labour commission does not have enough power, it is still at the beck and call of the court, they always have to go to court over their decisions and that is killing their spirit”
His comments come on the back of recent agitation by the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU) over disparities in allowances under the Single Spine Salary structure.
Members of these organized labour unions deserted the classrooms to press home their demands, until a meeting with President John Mahama at the Flagstaff House, Kanda, on March 21st, where they agreed to return to work while negotiations continue to resolve their grievances.
Kwesi Danso Acheampong, commended President John Mahama for not making any promises at that meeting, but rather telling teachers about the dwindling resource levels of the nation and leaving the issue for the negotiation table.
Richard Equity Sagodo of the Salaries terms and conditions of service Department of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, GNAT who was also on the show, applauded the president but added that there was no need for stakeholders to have waited for him [President] to add his voice to the matter since it was their duty to act accordingly and timely.
He said teachers should be commended for their composure since for a long time their demands have not been met.
“Things have not been right and we have been accommodating for a long time, we need to be commended for managing this one week strike. Things could have gone out of hands”.
Mr Sagodo insisted that they had held several meetings with stakeholders on their concerns but were not getting the right signals and that brought about their decision to embark on a strike action.
“Incremental credits have not been paid for the past 3 years and we impressed on fair wages to officially write to ministry of finance that arrears accruing to teachers should be paid and a copy given to us but after two weeks that has not been realized and that got us agitated. Our strike has yielded results because we have been asked to go back to the negotiation table and that is what we were looking for”; he said.
Director of grievances and negotiations at the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Cornelius Yawson who joined the discussion by phone argued that the strike action was totally unnecessary as concerns raised by teachers were already being addressed.
“The national labour commission issued a directive that the issue of car maintenance allowance should be tackled and the GES was collating data on those who had authorization to use vehicles for official duties on promotions, all other demands were being tackled”.
He added that incremental credits were being handled but was on hold due to the complexities of the spine as they were taking time to allow all public workers to be migrated onto it, as directed by the public services joint standing negotiations committee.
Cornelius Yawson stated that the GES had also been directed to negotiate with WAEC on issues regarding promotions and invigilation.