Concerned students threaten to demonstrate over UTAG strike

Source The Ghana Report

The Coalition of Concerned University Students (CoCUS) has called on the government to immediately resolve the disagreement with the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) for academic work to resume.

The coalition is worried about the current impasse and the indefinite strike, which negatively impacts students.

Students are feeling the negative impact already since academic activities have stalled.

Addressing the media, the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Concerned University Students (CoCUS), Kofi George Abuah, said the ongoing strike would force students to demonstrate if the government fails to meet lecturers’ demands.

“Government must within the next few working days engage the University Teachers Association of Ghana with the aim of addressing the issues in a manner that UTAG will be satisfied. Currently, most students are preparing for their mid-semester assessments and end-of-semester examinations, and we believe this strike will have a negative toll on them psychologically and academically.”

“It is on the backdrop of this that we plead with the government to act right. We will be forced to demonstrate if the government does not meet the demands of the lecturers.”

He further indicated that, already, “COVID-19 has been an albatross on students’ neck and disrupted the learning and academic procedures, thus it is unfair for university students to pay exorbitant tuition and hostel fees at this early stage of the academic calendar just to see lecturers embark on an indefinite industrial action”.

UTAG announced industrial action over conditions of service on Monday, 10 January 2022, compelling a meeting between parties involved.

After considerations on Thursday, 13 January, the NLC directed UTAG to call off its industrial action and resume work because they did not follow due process to channel their grievances.

The NLC stated that the reason UTAG embarked on the strike had been settled, thus submission of the report on the Labour Market Survey.

NLC added that UTAG might have other issues, “but those had not yet been formally presented to the employer for redress”.

But a statement on 19 January 2022 by UTAG, said “the members have unanimously resolved to continue with the withdrawal of teaching and related services until further notice.

Reason for the strike

Teachers have embarked on countless strikes over the same issue in recent years.

The latest decision was made by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of UTAG following two emergency meetings.

UTAG explained that after implementing the IMP in 2013, a determination is yet to be made, resulting in the erosion of the university teacher’s salary.

“There was the hope that by completing and implementing the Labour Market Survey (LMS) Report of 2019, a review of the IMP would have put the University Teacher on relatively good salary stead. Regrettably, the recommendations of the 2019 LMS Report without any accompanying technical report on the implementable MP is meaningless to UTAG as it does not address the pertinent issues of improved CoS,” UTAG lamented.

It added that there was an LMS in 2014 whose report did not see the light of day, and one wonders if the 2019 LMS Report would ever be implemented since it is already two years old.

“In addition, recommendation (iii) from the 2019 LMS Report states that, ‘Public Services Commission should liaise with educational institutions to prioritise the offering of courses in areas of demand to increase the employment prospects of their graduates and increase the pool of applicants for high vacancies’”.

“How can such a national agenda be attained if the CoS of the University Teacher keeps worsening year on year, leading to an ever-increasing attrition rate on our campuses? UTAG members see the timing of the release of the report as one of the usual delay tactics that the Employer has employed over the years, which is unacceptable”.

“We must also point out that, generally, our members have decried the pittance agreed to be paid as annual research allowance and would want the government to reconsider the payment of a more realistic research allowance as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development,” it added.


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