NUGS appeals to UTAG to call off strike

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The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has appealed to the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to call off its industrial action and return to the classrooms for the sake of students so as to enable them to continue with their studies.

It said while in the classrooms, it could continue with its negotiations for better conditions of service.

“Students have been greatly affected by the strike action as they cannot write their examinations, as well as pursue further studies outside since they would need their transcripts to do so,” the General Secretary of the NUGS, Mr. Julius Kwame Anthony, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

Background

The UTAG, on August 2, 2021, began an industrial action over what it said was the failure of the government to restore the 2012 salary levels of its members.

However, the NLC last Friday secured an interlocutory injunction from an Accra High Court to compel the UTAG to return to work.

The association has remained defiant over the 10-day injunction and last Monday, it said it had filed a counter-motion against the injunction.

Unfortunate

According to Mr. Anthony, the turn of events was unfortunate and that if lecturers did not return to the classrooms, the universities could shut down after 21 days.

“It is rather unfortunate because most of the institutions have had to call off their examinations. There are also some students who have applied for further studies and they are waiting for their transcripts but with the current situation, they have to lose the opportunity,” he said, adding that “these are foreign institutions and once the deadlines have passed, you can’t do anything about it”.

The NUGS general secretary said the strike action shouldn’t have happened considering the harm caused by the COVID-19 to the education sector.

For its part, he said the government should also try and come to a compromise with the university teachers to get them back to the classroom.

“The UTAG must also go to the table with the willingness to make some compromise. It is highly incomprehensible for the UTAG to go to the negotiation table with highly entrenched positions.

“If you look at the single spine salary structure and you look at the demands of the UTAG, they are recipes for the collapse of the structure,” he said.

Demands

Mr Anthony explained that once the UTAG’s demands are met, other public sector workers would also make similar demands, thereby leading to the collapse of the structure.

On the issue of dollarisation of their payment, he said, “if you see a joint communique that has been signed between the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the UTAG and some other unions, you would realize that as far back as 2012, they ended the dollarisation of the basic salary”.

He said although the association had the right to make its demands, it should do them in such a way that would not affect students.

“But now all those things are happening at our expense which should not be the case. If you want to negotiate, go ahead but to leave the classrooms, it’s not good for us,” he said.

source: graphiconline