A member of Parliament’s Education Committee, Vincent Ekow Assafuah, has described as illegal and unpatriotic, the reluctance of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to back down on their strike while negotiations continue.
According to him, UTAG is setting a bad precedence with its entrenched stance in what appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Association to hold the government to ransom over its conditions of service.
“For the avoidance of doubt, basic labour laws simply do not allow negotiations whiles on strike. I am struck by the difficulty with which UTAG is failing to understand this basic labour law requirement. I fear the bad precedence being set by UTAG. The actions of UTAG is simply illegal and unpatriotic and same must be condemned by all,” he said in a Facebook post on Monday, February 14.
The Old Tafo legislator noted UTAG’s entrenched demand and failure to reach any compromise with government suggests they are insensitive to the plights of university students.
Mr. Assafuah said inasmuch as the lecturers’ demands may be legitimate, “they should come to the realisation of utilising an amicable and appropriate medium of expressing an emphatic demand rather than resorting to a prolonged strike which is not healthy for our educational sector.”
“I would like to entreat UTAG to loosen their hardened stance and have a second thought of their decision in order not to aggravate the issue by damaging their hard earned image of professionalism,” Vincent Assafuah added.
For the second time, the Labour Division of the High Court directed the National Labour Commission (NLC) and UTAG to settle the industrial action out of court.
This follows an earlier directive by the same Court which was ignored by the University lecturers on the basis that they cannot negotiate with a party that has filed a lawsuit against them.
Both parties have been at a deadlock for over five weeks, a development that is threatening a mass shut down of public universities across the country.
Academic work and activities have been brought to a halt after several weeks of inactive teaching and learning.
There have been calls by some university students and education think tanks for universities to close down due to the strike action which they believe will threaten the academic calendar.
But Vincent Assafuah wants the NLC to be unbiased as it regulates discussions between the government and the lecturers.
“The NLC needs to play a pivotal role in bringing this impasse to a closure laced with mutual respect and understanding.”
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.
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