UTAG to meet NLC, govt over grievances

Barring any last minute change, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), the government, National Labour Commission (NLC) and other stakeholders would meet today over the strike by the association.

The meeting, which was initially scheduled for yesterday, would consider the legality or otherwise of the industrial action that has hindered academic work in all public universities nationwide since Monday.

Themeeting is also expected to discuss the conditions of service demanded by UTAG, failure of the stakeholders to stick to an earlier agreement, and consider the hearing of the substantive issue according to Ghanaian Times sources.

The Commission announced the change in date for the meeting in a letter, dated January 10, 2022, and signed by the Director of Administration and Human Resources,Dr Bernice Welbeck.

The university teachers have been asking 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.

Ahead of the meeting, the president of UTAG, Dr Solomon Nunoo, has indicated that in spite of earlier concerns raised about the conduct of the NLC, the association was hopeful of a favourable ruling.

He said “unfortunately for us, that is the only state institution we have when it comes to labour management. In this case, we need to go and listen and then we see how they will handle it.

“We go in with an open mind, but that does not stop us from commenting on the behaviour of people who are behaving as appendages of government”, he told Accra-based Joyfm radio station, which was monitored by Ghanaian Times.

“If the Labour Commission had been proactive, they would have come in to try and mediate the process but unfortunately, that did not take place. We are optimistic that they will give a ruling in our favour and then we continue from there,” Prof. Nunoo said.

He reiterated that UTAG was ready to engage the government in negotiations to find lasting solution to their concerns, saying “The negotiations will start any time government is willing to negotiate. We wish for an end to come as quickly as possible.”

The Ghanaian Times on Tuesday reported that the UTAG strike to demand better conditions of service, had left students in public universities across the country stranded.

Many students have called on the government to address the concerns of UTAG so that their lecturers would return to the lecture halls, to prevent disruption of the academic calendar.

The UTAG, in a communique issued after its emergency meeting last Saturday, announced the withdrawal of services of its members effective January, 10, 2022.

According to the association, the action was warranted by “the worsening conditions of service (CoS) of the university teachers and the failure of the employer in addressing the plight of UTAG members within the agreed timelines.”

“For the reasons stated above, the NEC of UTAG at its meeting held on January7, 2022 reiterated its resolve to follow through with the decision to withdraw teaching and related activities until further notice with effect from Monday, 10 January 2022 and call on all UTAG members across the fifteen (15) branches to observe this directive,” it said.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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