Call off strike, get back to negotiation table – govt to UTAG

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has been accused of acting in bad faith after it emerged the group was yet to state its position on the labour market survey which determines whether or not market premium is up for renegotiation.

According to a government source abreast with details of the negotiation, a copy of the Market survey report was made available to UTAG on January 6, this year for their study, and position paper after it intimated that if a market survey was not completed and its report made available to them by 31st December 2021, they would call for a new strike.  

However, UTAG, on January 10 declared a strike and was still yet to submit their position paper, a situation which has stalled negotiations. 

The source, who pleaded anonymity because he has no permission to speak on the matter, wondered why UTAG would still proceed on strike when the very thing they requested for was eventually delivered albeit a few days late. 

“Why will a group that agreed to make its position on the report available for further engagement refuse to deliver its position paper and instead call a strike, which strike halts all further negotiations?” he quizzed.

Further to that, the source said the demand by UTAG to peg their interim market premium at 114 per cent of their 2022 base pay while awaiting a decision on whether or not market premium is up for re-negotiation was at variance with the 2013 government white paper on market premium, which put interim market premium at an absolute nominal value.

He noted that the government had reminded UTAG that market premium could only be examined when negotiations resumed after their strike and they make their position known on the results of the Labour Market Survey.

“Until then, the 2013 white paper says it should be frozen at the 114 per cent of 2012 base pay level. Additionally, the white paper (Paragraph 3.5.1 and 3.5.2) states that even when a review is to be effected to market premium, it should be applied to scarce skills only and not as a wholesale application,” the source stated.

He said government, after signing a MoU with UTAG to satisfactorily resolve issues related to the conditions of service of university teachers in June 2021, further concluded negotiations in October to up research allowance to US$1,600 by 2024.

The source indicated that decision by the association to embark on a strike and refuse to respect institutions and their rulings was in bad faith and flies in the face of the principle of respect for institutions.

For the current impasse to be resolved, it urged UTAG to call off its strike and get back to the negotiating table with their position paper on the Labour Market Survey.

This, the source said, would enable a dispassionate decision to be made on whether or not market premium was up for renegotiation.

“UTAG are encouraged to stop this exercise of putting students at a disadvantage and threatening to shut down universities simply because they don’t want to abide by the processes laid down by law,” he added.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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