The Ashanti regional chapter of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has embarked on a strike following the desolution of the governing council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Government on Thursday dissolved the council following violent protests by some students of the university.
The seven-member interim council is expected to conduct investigations into the protests after students called for the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, to be sacked
The university was closed indefinitely after the demonsatration which stdents claim was to resgister their dipleasure over the treatment meted out to them by campus security.
No casualties were recorded but many properties were destroyed during the violent protests. Students were asked to go home the next day, only international students are allowed on campus.
The students want Prof Obiri Danso out
The new council is expected to carry out its mandate in three months and determine the fate of the Vice-Chancellor. They are also to ensure the university reopens in 14 days.
But UTAG is incensed that government’s new council does not include their representative or that of the university’s management.
This prompted an emergency meeting on Friday and the decision to lay down their tools until the right things are done by government.
Local chapter president of UTAG, Prof. Eric Kwabena Konduah, told Joy News’ Erastus Asare Donkor they do not recognise the new council.
“Following deliberations, we have all decided that the government as a matter of urgency should restore the governing council of the KNUST. We don’t recognise the interim management committee set up by the government yesterday and we will withdraw our teaching services until government restores things back.
Glazed windows and doors were destroyed during the protests
“So we have declared a strike with immediate effect,” he added.
Prof. Konduah said although they have heard reports that government has added one of their members to represent them on the council but they have not received any official notice to that effect.
“Even if they have done that, what we are saying is that we see the move of government as an attack on academic freedom. This is the heritage our fathers won for us that the university is semi-autonomous, we do our things…we have our act, we have our statutes and there are enough mechanisms to deal with this issue.
“Gone are the days when the government was the chancellor of the university. Now we have a chancellor, governing council, a chairman appointed by the government and three others and if all these people cannot do anything, do you think this new one can,” he queried.
Motorbikes seized by the university police were also torched by the protesting students
Prof. Konduah further stated that even if government officially picks a representative for them, they will not agree to be on the council.
The issue for him, is government’s neglect of the lecturers when it took the first decision, “it amazes us,” he added.
Responding to concerns raised by the students about the maltreatment they have had to endure at the hands of the security men, Prof Konduah said the lecturers are not aware of that.
“We have not received any petition from the students. We have never received any petition from any of the students. The SRC president is part of the council and they could have brought it up as an agenda.
They have never brought any issue to the council and we have not discussed anything,” he added.
UTAG feels disrespected and Prof. Konduah says once government has neglected them, “we will also neglect them,” and that the only time they will rescind their decision is if the old council is restored.
The Association said they will be joined by Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU) and the Federation of University Senior Staff Association of Ghana (FUSAG) for a demonstration on Monday, October 29.