President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commended the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) for suspending its strike.
Nana Akufo-Addo said the government will take into consideration issues raised by the union and will work to address them.
The President was speaking at a meeting with the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) when he made the remark.
“I am happy that the University Teachers Association has agreed, after long-held negotiations, suspended the strike and decided to go back to the negotiation table. We are hoping that some strong binding arrangement will finally be agreed upon by the parties as a roadmap has been established, and hopefully, I will make sure that this roadmap is fully implemented.”
“It is in our own interest that there are no disruptions in academic work in our tertiary institutions and that the teachers have the wherewithal to be able to undertake the very important obligations that they have.”
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UTAG suspended its two-week-old strike on Wednesday and also agreed to return to the negotiation table.
It followed an emergency meeting, its leaders had with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and the National Labour Commission (NLC) on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.
Both parties [Government and UTAG] also resolved to discontinue the legal processes concerning the protracted strike and gave themselves a one-month timeline to settle all outstanding issues.
“We have suspended [the strike]. One will realize that our strike has brought a lot to a standstill, so I believe that when management in the various universities gives the order, things will get to normal”, National President of UTAG, Prof. Charles Marfo confirmed on Eyewitness News.
A Memorandum of Agreement signed by the government and UTAG after the meeting noted that “both parties agree that there is a need to get back to the negotiating table from the week beginning Monday 23rd August 2021.”
During the period, government and UTAG will among other things negotiate the research component of the Book and Research Allowance, market premium, and non-basic allowance.
Following the deliberations, the parties agreed as follows:
1. That both parties (Government and UTAG) agree that there is a need to get back to the negotiating table from the week beginning Monday, August 23, 2021.
2. That road for negotiation, as agreed at previous consultative meetings between the parties, which imposes a one-month mandatory period beginning 23rd August 2021 for negotiations, shall be signed by both parties.
3. That whilst the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations in conjunction with the NLC is taking steps to discontinue all legal processes against UTAG, UTAG will also take steps to suspend the ongoing strike action.
4. That government acknowledges the need to improve the working conditions of University Teachers and shall treat this will all the seriousness it deserves.
The industrial action
UTAG members have been on strike since the beginning of August 2021 because they want the government to restore the conditions of service agreed upon in 2012 which they said was far better than the current situation.
The 2012 Single Spine package put entry-level lecturers on a salary of $2,084 while the current level puts lecturers’ salaries around $900.
The strike by UTAG has severely affected academic and some non-academic work at the various tertiary campuses.
The High Court’s Labour Division, 1, advised the National Labour Commission (NLC), and UTAG, to settle the stalemate over their industrial action out of Court.