The National Labour Commission (NLC) has asked the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) to suspect their separate strike actions and come to the negotiating table for talks.
In two separate letters to either union, the NLC said the parties are hereby invited to appear before the commission on Thursday, 5 August 2021 at 11 am (UTAG) and 12: 30 pm (SSA-UoG), “for hearing of the matter in dispute”.
“The National Labour Commission directs that with this intervention, the union should stay all action(s) for the parties to appear before the Commission”, the letters noted.
They noted that the “invitation is in accordance with section 139 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651”.
“In view of the COVID-19 protocols, the representation by each side is restricted to a maximum of two persons and this must also be noted”, the correspondence signed by Dr Bernice Welbeck, Director, Administration/HR, said on Monday, 2 August 2021.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has appealed to both UTAG and SSA-UoG not to suspend their intended strike.
Both UTAG and SSA-UoG started their separate indefinite strikes today, Monday, 2 August 2021.
In a press statement issued on Monday, NUGS urged the two unions to reconsider their decision as a “mark of good faith towards students”.
“The National Union of Ghana Students appreciates UTAG and SSA-UoG for the patience and sacrifice of their membership toward service rendered to Ghanaian students and the nation at large”.
“We believe strongly that the answers UTAG and SSA-UoG are seeking from the government are for the right reasons.”
“That notwithstanding, we disagree with the strike approach, considering its effect on students, especially within the abnormal times we find ourselves in and the earlier obstruction of academic work by the global shutdown.
“UTAG and SSA-UoG must as an act of good faith toward students and the government avoid an entrenched position in all dialogues to address their concerns.”
“We appeal to our lecturers to stay in the classroom for the sake of the future generation as they continue to negotiate with the appropriate quarters since Ghanaian students shouldn’t always be at the receiving end.”
Announcing the strike, UTAG said: “We write on behalf of the National Executive Committee of UTAG to inform and/or remind you of the intended strike of UTAG. By this notice, all campuses are to withdraw all teaching and related activities – teaching, examination, invigilation, marking of examination scripts, processing of examination results, etc., from Monday, 2 August 2021 until further notice. We encourage all members on our various campuses to comply with this directive”, the letter signed by Prof Charles Marfo, National President and Dr Eric K.K. Abavare, National Secretary, said.
A few weeks ago, UTAG’s NEC notified the National Labour Commission (NLC) of its intention to strike.
The industrial action, according to UTAG, is against the “government on the grounds of its failure to address the worsening conditions of UTAG’s members within an agreed period”.
A statement co-signed by the same national executives dated 15 July 2021, indicated: “Specifically, negotiation of our conditions of service, which was started some two years ago and was early this year scheduled to end by the end of this month, July 2021, has overly been delayed with no end in sight,” adding: “In our last meeting with government, UTAG strongly indicated to the government that if by the agreed date of the end of negotiations – i.e. 31 July 2021 – no agreement is reached, the association would have no option but to resort to indefinite strike”.
UTAG has, therefore, decided “to withdraw teaching, one of its main duties, from 2 August 2021 if no agreement is reached by 31 July 2021”.
Similarly, SSA-UoG, in a statement, said the government failed to “respect and fulfil the agreements between both parties at different intervals.”
The association also accused the government of “contemptuous and total disregard to the National Labour Commission’s (NLC) directives on January 28, 2021, upon hearing from both parties to resolve all our concerns within a three-month stipulated period, which also regrettably elapsed on March 31, 2021, repugnantly.”
It said “all members of the Senior Staff Associations across all the 16 public universities in Ghana (SSA-UOG and FUSSAG) are required to lay down their tools until further notice.”
A few days ago, the association – which declared a strike on 18 May 2021, to compel the government to pay its members’ tier 2 pension contributions and also demanded the award of market premium and non-basic allowance, as well as the finalisation of negotiations of the members’ conditions of service – but later froze it upon the intervention of the National Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), threatened a worse form of its earlier industrial action if the government did not fulfil the promises it made which prompted the group to suspend the strike on 11 June.
An earlier statement signed by Mr Zakaria Mohammed, National Chairman, said, at the 12th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the University of Cape Coast on 9 and 10 July 2021 respectively, the Senior Staff Association – Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) discussed and resolved the following:
1. The inability of Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to communicate feedback on our counter proposal to government by Wednesday, 7 July 2021 as promised;
The SSA-UoG suspended its strike action on 11 June 2021 on the promise of commitment by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission with Vice-Chancellors Ghana (VCG) as guarantors to completely resolve and conclude all outstanding issues on the negotiation table from 30 June to 19 July 2021.
Since the last negotiation meeting on 30 June 2021 on our counter-proposal to the government, the FWSC was to secure the needed mandate and communicate feedback to SSA-UoG.
This has since remained a mirage and it is creating agitations, fear and panic among our rank and file because there have been similar illusive promises in the past that never saw the light of day.
2. Computation of interest on Tier 2 and roadmap for payment;
The government requested SSA-UoG to submit names of its technical team to work hand in hand with the government technical team on the computation of interest on the outstanding Tier 2 Pension Contributions Arrears paid by Government. As requested by the government, SSA-UoG have since submitted names of its technical team to the government on 30 June 2021 which has since not been acknowledged.
It is our fervent belief that government has acted in bad faith.
3. Interestingly enough, the National Labour Commission (NLC) in all the above infractions being perpetrated against SSA-UoG and its loud silence on their part as a statutory body is not only worrying but also very shocking, as it is seen as an arbiter grounded in law.
4. The National Executive Council of SSA-UoG have resolved to resume full strike in the unlikely event that the government fails to meet the deadline as promised and agreed upon by all parties.
We, therefore, direct all the 14 public universities of SSA-UoG to keep themselves in readiness for a full-blown strike as resolved by NEC.
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