Government and TEWU should dialogue

Even before the new academic year begins in earnest, it has recorded its first industrial unrest, declared by the Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU).

In what the Union described as “unfair treatment by government”, it said its members were no more in a position to offer their services on the basis of conditions of service which expired in 2008.

According to Mark Dankyira Korankye, TEWU General Secretary, for about two years, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) had failed to finalise issues with TEWU on the matter, though they continue to work under difficult situations.

Addressing some TEWU members at the University of Ghana, Legon Campus in Accra yesterday, he said it was frustrating that the Commission had failed to conclude negotiation before the beginning of the academic year.

TEWU members, Mr Korankye said, were not receiving the 18-per cent non-academic basic allowance, although members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA) were being paid the allowance to cushion them in the wake of increased admissions at the universities owing to the Free SHS policy.

“TEWU is not being treated fairly at all. Government must take us seriously because we are key stakeholders in the efficient running of our universities. In the universities, not only lecturers ensure teaching and learning,” he said.

The concerns raised by TEWU are legitimate. It is worrying that after 12 years, they were working under expired condition of service while other unions are enjoying allowances denied TEWU.

Such treatment does not create the enabling environment for workers to execute their responsibilities wholeheartedly, and we urge stakeholders to address this issue timely.

Inasmuch as the Ghanaian Times agrees that TEWU is not being treated fairly, we do not endorse the industrial action declared by the union, especially at this time of the year.

We are aware that industrial unrest in the education sector is not new and that various governments have had to deal with them every year, especially at the beginning of the academic year.

However, it is different this time. The academic year is beginning at the opening of a new year and at a time the government is undergoing restructuring following the swearing-in of the president.

 Moreover, after about 10 months of school closure and learning time lost, the country cannot afford another interruption from academic work to compound the challenges at hand.

We, therefore, call on stakeholders to use dialogue to address the matter. Given the circumstances, dialogue is the best approach now. TEWU should, therefore, call off its strike.

The grievances raised by TEWU are not difficult matters that cannot be resolved at the negotiation table. We believe that they can be resolved so long as there is willingness from both parties to settle the issues amicably.

It is a new year and a new academic calendar and we must not complicate life for students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we must certainly not deny workers their due remunerations either.

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