President of the University of Ghana chapter of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Samuel Nkumbaan, says it’s not economically prudent to keep public universities running without academic activity.

There has not been any serious academic activity for over five weeks since public universities resume due to the ongoing strike by university teachers.

This has resulted in calls by some Education think tanks for the shutdown of universities following a deadlock in engagement between the striking lecturers and government. Negotiations between NLC and UTAG have also broken down.

Speaking to JoyNews on Friday, February 11, Dr Nkumbaan stated that it would be reasonable for public universities to shut down at this point.

“It is for management of the university to make the decision going forward as to whether to shut or not to shut, it is not for UTAG to decide, but we think that in the interest of the university by way of stimulating cost in terms of utility bills, it would be a reasonable thing to do,” he noted.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Kwasi Kwarteng, said the Ministry cannot negotiate with the striking lecturers while still on strike.

“Everything that we have to do, whatever resolution, whatever engagements and arrangements we have to do, I’m sure we all agree that it has to be conducted within the framework of the law, and so it is not about when you claim that you are entitled to any amount necessarily there would have to be a counteroffer, that would amount to clear or straight negotiations, and that would also be against the very dictates of our law,” he said.

Meanwhile, Parliament’s Education Committee has scheduled to meet with the leadership of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) next week to bring finality to the impasse between the union and government.

“We agreed to meet UTAG at our meeting on Wednesday. We plan to hold the meeting next week, listen to them and hopefully bring finality to the matter as we appeal to both sides,” Ranking Member on the Education Committee in Parliament, Peter Nortsu Kotoe, told Citi FM.

The scheduled meeting follows the High Court’s order for the National Labour Commission (NLC) and UTAG to return to the negotiation table and resolve the impasse for the second time.

UTAG’s demands

UTAG wants the government to reconsider the payment of its annual research allowance to a more realistic allowance “as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.”

They also want the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114% on Basic Salary restored.

The Association had bemoaned the current salary arrangement, which has reduced its members’ basic premiums to $997.84 instead of the 2012 conditions of service, which put entry-level lecturers on a monthly pay of $2,084.42.