The National Executive of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has indicated that it cannot immediately call off its strike, as directed by the National Labour Commission (NLC) until it meets the NAGRAT National Council to decide whether or not to do so.
The NLC has directed NAGRAT to call off its strike and negotiate with its employer, the Ministry of Education, and other state institutions, such as the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the Public Services Commission (PSC), in good faith.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Executive Secretary of the NLC, Mr Ofosu Asamoah, said NAGRAT had been directed to call off its nationwide strike, which started on Thursday, September 5, 2019, and remains at the negotiating table, which had started with the meeting among the partners last Wednesday evening.
“Today, the PSC, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations are all meeting to take a look at a strategic document submitted by the executive of NAGRAT on its grievances.
“On Monday, we will be meeting again with representatives of NAGRAT and go on from there,” Mr Asamoah said.
The Vice-President of NAGRAT, Mr Jacob Anaba, however, told the Daily Graphic that although the NLC had asked the association to call off the strike, its National Council was yet to meet over whether to call it off or not.
“NAGRAT has officially not called off the strike. When we went for the meeting, the NLC asked us to call it off, but we told them we would have to meet our council,” he said.
Asked when the leadership was meeting the council, he said it could be between yesterday and Monday, saying that once a decision was taken, it would be communicated to the public.
Mr Anaba confirmed that the association was going to meet the NLC again on Monday, September 16, 2019, but with all the key stakeholders this time, which included the PSC and the ministries of Finance, Education and Employment.
The issue, the NAGRAT Vice-President said, had to do with the PSC software which was a disincentive to teaching.
“So we made the complaint and the NLC said it needed to invite the PSC. We made our presentation, which the NLC understood, but I am not happy because the issue has not been resolved,” he said.
Mr Anaba said he expected the outcome of Monday’s meeting to be the NLC directing the PSC to do the right thing by going back to the old software in order to address all the issues and “after that we can look at the new one that they want to introduce”.
Release of money
On the release of money to teachers by the government, he said that was not the solution since the problem had to do with the software which was not able to capture members who were on promotion and transfer and those who had arrears to be settled.
“So if you release even GH¢100 million or a billion and you are not able to put the person on his right grade, you have done nothing. As for the money, it can be released, but the person who is supposed to enjoy it has to be put on the right grade and the system has to capture him or her and give him or her the right amount of money he or she is supposed to enjoy,” he said.
Mr Anaba said, for instance, that there were about 12,000 teachers supposed to be promoted, but because of the problem, they were not getting what was due them.
Last Thursday, NAGRAT declared a strike over what it called “untold pressure and hardship on teachers following the introduction of the Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS)”.
“We have complained about the system, to no avail. Now teachers have also begun working long hours. We are calling on all teachers to lay down their tools and stay out of their schools until further notice,” it declared at a press conference addressed by executives.
The President of NAGRAT, Mr Angel Carbonu, addressing the press conference, said the acquisition of the HRMIS by the PSC had created a lot of setbacks and was affecting the work of teachers across Ghana.
The NAGRAT executives, on behalf of their members, also complained about outstanding salary arrears, delays in promotion, the payment of additional responsibility allowance and teachers’ inability to seek transfer as other issues affecting teachers and for which they had called the strike.
A letter dated September 6, 2019, and signed by the Director of Administration and Human Resource of the NLC, Dr (Mrs) Bernice A. Welbeck, said the association had not served the commission any notice of going on strike.
“The commission notes that NAGRAT has not served any notice on the commission, pursuant to Section 159 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), which enjoins any party that wants to institute a lockout or tackle a strike to notify the commission,” the letter said.
According to the NLC, it only read in the Daily Graphic of September 6, 2019, about a nationwide strike declared by NAGRAT over salary arrears, collective agreement, promotion letters and promotional interviews and transfers.
It, therefore, called on NAGRAT to call off its strike and appear before it at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.