Court Floors NLC In POTAG Strike

The  Accra Human Rights Court has described as “unlawful” the directive of the National Labour Commission (NLC), to the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), to call off its strike and return to the classroom.

Prof.Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang,Minister of EducationThe court, presided over by Justice Essel Kofi Mensah, ruled yesterday that the NLC’s directive did not follow the Labour Act 651 and Legislative Instrument (LI) 1822, which demands strict adherence to arbitration processes.

It has, therefore, gave the NLC a 10-day ultimatum to settle the dispute by initiating and finalizing arbitration in the impasse between the Ministry of Education and POTAG as required by law.

The NLC went to court last month to enforce its ruling in the impasse between the government and POTAG over the scrapping of the research and book allowance.

The NLC had ruled that POTAG return to work, while arbitration procedures were initiated to address their concerns, but POTAG disregarded it thereby forcing the NLC to go to court.

By the NLC’s application, the court was to determine whether the strike was legal and subsequently compel the lecturers to go back to the classroom, if it was not.

However, before giving his ruling in the court which was packed with Executives of POTAG nationwide, Justice Mensah quizzed the counsel of the NLC, Mr. Oscar Asante-Nnuro, on the reasons why the directive was issued.

He questioned Mr. Asante-Nnuro whether the directive was with recourse to the Labour Act 651 which required the NLC to notify and await a response, after a complaint had been brought before it.

According to Justice Mensah, the initial directive of the NLC on May 21, ordering the lecturers to call off their strike and return to the classroom was fraught with procedural deficiency, hence the order by the court.

In response, the lawyer said the letter of POTAG to the NLC was not treated as a complaint, but a notification which truncated the original arbitration processes initiated by the NLC, in the impasse.

Mr. Nnuro said the directive was to enable to NLC reach a consensus with the Executives of POTAG, while the lecturers continued teaching.

Justice Mensah, at this point, doubted the procedure through which the directive was given and said the directive was unlawful, if it did not follow the Legislative Instrument (LI) 1822, which demands strict adherence to arbitration processes.

He then asked the court to proceed on a short break to enable him to conclude his ruling, which he came to read a few minutes afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Polytechnic Students Association of Ghana (PSAG) has mounted pressure on government to intervene in the impasse between their lecturers and the NLC.

Some students, a fortnight ago, thronged the office of the Ministry of Education to submit a petition, requesting the government to intervene in the impasse between their lecturers and the NLC.

They have also petitioned President John Dramani Mahama, through the Regional Ministers on the issue. By Charles Amankwa

 

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