Fate of public university students uncertain…as UTAG remains adamant

The fate of students in public universities remains uncertain as the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) continues to deliberate on whether to call of the strike or otherwise.

This is despite the directive from the National Labour Commission (NLC) last Thursday that the association should call of the “illegal industrial action” and return to the classroom.

The National President of UTAG, Prof. Solomon Nunoo, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times said since the NLC gave the directive, members of the association had been discussing the next line of action.

“The meetings are ongoing it’s not over, some campuses have held theirs, some are holding them today, I know it’s ongoing so we will get to know everything very soon”, he said.

Prof. Nunoo said until the series of meetings ongoing among the UTAG constituents on various campuses end and a consensus was reached, the association would not announce any decision on the strike.

“NLC stated categorically that the strike is illegal and we listened to them. We said we will bring the matter to our members that this is what NLC has said. Nobody has flouted that directive. They have stated it and it’s a clear directive that they have given, so it’s up to the members for us to see the way forward”, he said.

On the engagement with the government and other stakeholders on their concerns, Prof. Nunoo said they were yet to receive any invitation from the government for any discussion.

 He said although some people have expressed the view that the strike was unfair to their students, it was equally unfair to the lecturers who had been denied what was due them.

Checks by the Ghanaian Times yesterday at some public universities across the country showed that students were still on their own, uncertain about when the semester would begin.

Calm and tranquility continue to fill the lecture halls of the  University of Ghana ( UG), Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), University of Cape Coast (UCC), University of Health and Allied Sciences( UHAS), Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and IntegratedDevelopment Studies( SDD-UBIDS).

At the UG, some student were still struggling for accommodation, others had settled in and poised for the semester. These students in separate interviews with the Ghanaian Times repeated calls on the parties to consider their plight.

A level 300student, Isaac Mensah, said he had fully settled in and ready for the semester and was hopeful the strike would end this week.

“I was able to secure accommodation, I’m only waiting for lectures to begin, I’m hopeful the strike would end this week and everything returns to normal,” he said.

The NLC last Thursday declared the UTAG industrial action as illegal for which reason they should call it off and return to the classroom.

The directive was issued after a meeting between representatives of the Commission, UTAG, the government and Fair Wages and Salaries Commission over the strike which started last week.

The university teachers have been on strike since Monday to drum home their demand for the government to restore the conditions of service agreed upon in 2012/2013, which pegs the salary of an entry-level lecturer at $2,084.42.

According to the association, the decision was taken due to the failure of the employer to address the plight of UTAG members within the agreed timelines despite several assurances.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR &CONNIELOVE M. DZODZEGBE

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