UTAG To Go On Strike?

PROF. JANE  NAANA  OPOKU-AGYEMANMembers of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) have threatened to withdraw their services by next week if the appropriate authorities do not initiate process to pay their 2013/2014 academic year Book and Research Allowances.

National President of the group, Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe, announced the decision by UTAG members at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.

He said; “regrettably, if by 15th April, 2014 the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) or the appropriate authority has not initiated the process for the payment of the Book and Research Allowances for the 2013/2014, Academic Year, UTAG will be compelled to withdraw its services”

Dr. Bekoe said, their official request to the NCTE to initiate the process for the payment of this year’s Book and Research Allowances by 31st March, 2014 appears to have been ignored.

Additionally, the casual manner in which the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang met the leadership of UTAG on the 27th of February, 2014 on the Book and Research Allowances “was a vivid portrayal of lack of seriousness and importance the Ministry attaches to the resolution of the problem”.

He said the leadership of UTAG had managed to contain the frustration and anger of its entire membership on the various campuses and demonstrated the highest level of magnanimity and cooperation on the matter, all in the effort not to disrupt the academic calendar, but the attitude of authorities towards the problem have compelled them to reach that conclusion.

Dr. Bekoe said, government by all intents and purposes through acts of omission and commission has shown the resolve to implement the decision to scrap the Book and Research Allowances and replace them with the National Research Fund.

He mentioned that UTAG considers the approach by government to scrap the Book and Research Allowances without any consultations whatsoever with UTAG as an affront to the sensibilities of its members, given the fact that UTAG is the major beneficiary of the existing allowances.

According to him, it was UTAG that mooted the idea of the creation of a National Research Fund in 2006, and therefore, it would be preposterous for anyone to think or attempt to suggest that UTAG was opposed to the creation of the National Research Fund.

Dr. Bekoe said, “UTAG is beginning to have some misgivings about the future and operational performance of the National Research Fund if it becomes a reality, given the experiences and historical antecedents of various National Funds that have been set up in the past”.

“Despite our non-opposition to the establishment of the Fund, we made it clear in unambiguous terms that we did not believe that the National Research Fund should lead to the obliteration of the existing Book and Research Allowances.

Today, UTAG still stands by that conviction and strongly believes and wishes to state that the proposed National Research Fund and the Book and Research Allowances can co-exist”, he added. By Joseph Edu Archison


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