Government and UTAG should continue to dialogue

On August 2, 2021, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Senior Staff Association-Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) embarked on an industrial action demanding a restoration of conditions of service agreed in 2012.

UTAG in particular had accused the government of failing to cooperate with it to complete negotiations on those conditions of service, which started in August 2018 though some progress had been made.

The National Labour Commission (NLC) on the same day invited the members of the two associations to appear before it on August 5, to hear the matters in dispute with the government and directed the associations to call off the strike.

When things seemed not to be working, the NLC, on August 6, secured an injunction from the Accra High Court to compel UTAG to end the industrial action.

The injunction was to last for 10 days and the Labour Court 1 Division of the High Court at a point awarded costs of GH¢3000 against the UTAG for wasting its time and advised that the stalemate over the industrial action be settled out of court.

On August 16, 2021, the court urged the parties to re-evaluate their positions on the matter and consider returning to the negotiation table and that they should do so before August 19, 2021, when it was expected to reconvene to determine the way forward.

The Ghanaian Times is, therefore, elated to hear that the UTAG has agreed to suspend its strike following an emergency meeting it had with the NLC and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) at which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed.

The MoU, among other demands, asked the university teachers to resume work on August 23 while the MELR and NLC take steps to discontinue all legal actions against UTAG.

It is reported that all such legal actions are going to be discontinued.

Since the UTAG-Government impasse began, the Ghanaian Times has taken the position of urging “jaw-jaw” rather than “war-war”.

Our editorial of August 3, 2021 and another exactly a week later on August 10 emphasised this position.

In those two editorials, we called on the parties in the impasse to be prepared to make some sacrifices by way of some compromises that would help to build consensus.

We also made an appeal to them to allay the worries of both students and their parents and guardians and also not to aggravate the blow COVID-19 had already dealt the education system that threatened its smooth progress.

Our appeal today is that the tool of negotiation and consensus building adopted now should take precedence and be constantly used to resolve any disagreement and stalemate on the way.

The Ghanaian Times hails the way forward in this matter and particularly commends the UTAG for easing its stance on indefinite action.

As it has always been our belief, only the parties in the impasse can resolve the matter; intermediaries are only facilitators.

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