UTAG declares an indefinite strike

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The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has declared an

indefinite strike.

According to UTAG, the decision to strike was necessitated by what

they consider as government's deliberate attempt to unduly delay the

payment of their book and research allowance.

Speaking at a conference on Thursday, Dr. Samuel Ofori-Bekoe the

National President of UTAG insisted they will only call off the strike

if their monies are paid and they are assured the book and research

allowance will also not be scrapped.

Find below the full details of the press statement




Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

You will recall that on 8th April, 2014, UTAG held a press conference

at this same venue to express its position on and disappointment with

Government's unilateral decision to abolish the Book and Research

Allowances paid to Academic Senior Members of the Public Universities

and in its stead replace it with a National Research Fund. We made our

position clear that UTAG is not opposed to the creation of the

National Research Fund. However, UTAG's position has been that the

National Research Fund should not replace the existing Book and

Research Allowances.

It may be recalled that in that same press conference and subsequent

explanations on various platforms, we justified the retention of the

Book and Research Allowances based on the following reasons:

That since the Book and Research Allowances are tied to the University

Lecturer's condition of service, and was introduced as a result of a

collective decision taken by both Government and UTAG, its intended

abolition cannot be a unilateral decision as such an action would have

implications for the overall conditions of service of the university


That the existing Book and Research Allowances guarantee minimum and

immediate research support across the board for all lecturers and

research fellows.

That early career lecturers and researchers in the public universities

take advantage of the Book and Research Allowances to start their

professional development and career in terms of the conduct of

research, purchasing of books and other instructional materials, the

subscription to academic journals among others. The intended abolition

of the Book and Research Allowances will hurt the career development

of such category of academics.

That the reasons why the Book and Research Allowances were introduced

in the 1995/96 academic year are even more relevant today than at any

other time in the past, owing to large student numbers resulting from

increasing enrolment at the public universities, which have increased

the research/teaching burden of the lecturer enormously.

That if government goes ahead with the proposed abolition of the Book

and Research Allowances, it will have grave implications for the

future of the public universities in Ghana.

Following that press conference, UTAG sent a letter of intent to the

National Labour Commission (NLC) to withdraw its services by April 15,

2014 if the Government did not take steps to start the process for the

payment of the Book and Research Allowances for the 2013/2014 academic

year and also rescind its decision to abolish the allowances.

Subsequently, the National Labour Commission (NLC) issued a directive

on 16th April, 2014 to both UTAG and the Government to go back and

negotiate on the issue and report to it on May 14, 2014.

UTAG complied and put a stay on its intention to withdraw its services

with the hope that Government would demonstrate its commitment to

resolving the issue. At the negotiations, UTAG provided official

documentation to support its claim that the allowances are part of its

condition of service as captured under: Section 9.13 of the Unified

Conditions of Service for Public Universities in Ghana."

UTAG further provided a letter it received from the Fair Wages and

Salaries Commission (FWSC) in response to UTAG's request in 2013 for

increment of the allowances. The letter which was signed by the

Executive Secretary FWSC in the person of Mr Smith Graham stated that

the Book and Research Allowances belong to Category II and III

schedule of allowances and would continue to be paid at the existing

rate until they were reviewed later by the Public Services Joint

Negotiation Committee (PSJNC). Copies of both documents were submitted

to the Minister of Education.

Unfortunately, the negotiations ended in stalemate in spite of the

documentation and evidence UTAG had provided to prove its case.

Surprisingly, Government still insisted that it would put the money

into the proposed National Research Fund.

Both UTAG and the Government reported the botched negotiations to the

National Labour Commission on May 14, 2016. Subsequent to that, the

NLC ruled that the next step, as per the Labour Act 2003, Act 651 was

for both parties to go for mediation to which UTAG complied.

Although the National Labour Commission (NLC) had recommended that

both parties should go for mediation, Government requested UTAG to opt

for voluntary arbitration because of cost implications. UTAG, in a

show of cooperation to resolve the matter, once again, obliged.

The NLC nominated a sole arbitrator to arbitrate on the issue which

UTAG was copied. Surprisingly, when the arbitration process was about

to start, Government changed its mind and is now demanding, for the

second time, a waiver of voluntary arbitration for compulsory

arbitration without any tangible reasons.

UTAG has also noted with concern, a recent press statement by the

Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Hon Samuel Okudzeto

Ablakwa that suggests that the payment of the Book and Research

Allowances has not delayed because they are usually made in September.

In a similar manner, the Hon Minister for Finance, Mr Seth E. Terkper,

in his presentation of the 2014 Mid-Year Review Budget Statement to

Parliament on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 announced that Government had

established the National Research Fund with a seed money of GH¢15

million to replace the Book and Research Allowances (See page 45,

under the subheading National Research Facility).

This notwithstanding, Government has had a meeting with UTAG on 23rd

July, 2014 and has supposedly agreed to pay the Book and Research

Allowances for the 2013/2014 academic year but with no clear time

lines. UTAG considers these inconsistences by Government as not only a

mere pretence, but also a lack of clear focus, and a deliberate

attempt to unduly delay the process.

The leadership of UTAG, has so far, managed to contain the frustration

and anger of its entire membership on the various campuses, and has

demonstrated the highest level of magnanimity and cooperation on this

matter, all in the effort not to disrupt the academic calendar.

Unfortunately, under the present circumstances, it has become

extremely difficult to contain the situation. Consequently, UTAG has

decided to withdraw indefinitely its teaching services with effect

from today, Thursday, 24th July, 2014.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press!


Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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