Shutdown universities due to UTAG strike – Education Watch
An education think tank, Africa Education Watch, has called for the closure of all public universities following weeks of industrial action by lecturers.
Its been over four weeks since the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) began protests and refused to go back to the classroom until their demand for better conditions of service are addressed.
Students have been left stranded due to the impasse between UTAG, the National Labour Commission (NLC), and the Ministry of Education.
In a statement, Eduwatch explained that given the increasing social and economic cost of staying on campus with no academic activity, it would be in the best interest of students for the schools to be closed down.
“The majority of students on campus are freshmen who have not even been matriculated. These freshmen have had no academic direction since they arrived in the universities to meet a university community without academic activity or supervision by their lecturers and counsellors due to the strike.
“Their continuous stay on campus without academic activity has economic and social consequences on them and their families back home, as they continue to incur expenditure they otherwise wouldn’t have incurred if they were home,” Eduwatch argued.
The regulations guiding public universities indicate that where there are no teaching activities for 31 days after academic activities are to resume, the school must be closed down.
Eduwatch thus called on Vice-Chancellors to close down all public universities until the UTAG strike is called off.
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”.
Again, on Tuesday, 8 February, a meeting between the Ministry of Education and UTAG and other stakeholders ended inconclusively and is expected to continue on Thursday.
The meeting became necessary after the High Court ordered the National Labour Commission and UTAG to resort to an out-of-court settlement following a suit filed by the NLC.
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.