The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has agreed to call off its strike action following a meeting yesterday with Parliament’s Education Committee, the Education Minister and the Labour Minister to bring finality to their impasse between UTAG and the government.
This was disclosed by the Ranking Member on the Education Committee in Parliament, Peter Nortsu Kortoe, in an interview with Joy News’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson.
The Akatsi North MP said, upon appeal by the committee, the university lecturers had resolved to call off the strike on condition that government would settle the outstanding issues.
“On our appeal, they have agreed to call off the strike on the condition that government is ready to sit down with them immediately for them to resolve outstanding matters. The Minister gave us the assurance that they are going to be committed. Once the committee has directed, there is no way he as a leader of the government delegation will fail to meet with them, even if it is 24hours a day; they will meet,” he said.
The legislator said the committee was hopeful that university lecturers would return to lecture halls by Monday, February 21.
Meanwhile, the committee has tasked the Education Minister to resolve outstanding issues within one week and report back to it.
“As a committee, we have given them one week, after UTAG have called off the strike, to conclude negotiations and report back to the committee. Some of their concerns have been addressed,” he stated.
On Tuesday February 15, the Labour Division of the Accra High Court put an injunction on the strike by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), putting an obligation on the lecturers to go back the lecture halls to engage in academic work.
The court, presided over by Justice Frank Aboadwe Rockson, halted the strike which is currently in its fifth week.
The order followed an application for interlocutory injunction by the National Labour Commission (NLC) to halt the industrial action by UTAG
According to the orders of the court, UTAG was to suspend its strike until the final determination of an application by the NLC, seeking to enforce its orders for UTAG to call off its strike and return to the negotiation table with the government. Additionally, on Tuesday February 3, 2022, an Accra High Court directed the National Labour Commission (NLC) to settle its impasse with UTAG out of court.
When the case was called on the said day, the presiding judge, Justice Frank Rockson Aboadwe, gave the parties up to Thursday, February 10, 2022, to return to court and report back on the progress of the out-of-court settlement. The presiding judge also called the parties from open court into his chambers for an in-camera discussion.
After the in-camera session, counsel for UTAG, Kwasi Keli-Delataa, told journalists that the NLC would be allowed to move its motions, if a consensus was not reached by the said date, being February 10, 2022. On the same Thursday February 10, a meeting between the government and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), which was aimed at finding a solution to the current industrial action, ended in a deadlock.
The meeting, Daily Statesman understands, ended after three hours of deliberations, which was geared towards addressing UTAG’s concerns.
UTAG embarked on the strike on January 10, calling on the employer to restore members to the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114 per cent of basic salary.
They also want the government to go ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the general conditions of service of the university teacher. It is the case of UTAG that the IMP, which was instituted after the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy, was frozen, per a government White Paper in 2013, for the purpose of the conduct of a labour market survey (LMS) to determine the MP payable to workers deserving of it.
UTAG contended that, till date, the determination had not been made, which had resulted in the erosion of the university teacher’s salary.
In its release declaring the strike on January 7, this year, the UTAG Council said there was the hope that, by completing and implementing the LMS Report of 2019, a review of the IMP would have put the university teacher on a relatively good salary stead.
“Regrettably, the recommendations of the 2019 LMS Report, without any accompanying technical report on the implementable MP, is meaningless to UTAG, as it does not address the pertinent issues of improved CoS,” the statement had said.