POTAG Strike Takes Toll On Academic Work

Source: Graphic Online
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Source: Graphic Online

6/15/2012 8:01:30 AM -

The continued strike by the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) is having a toll on the academic programmes of some polytechnics in the country.

While the Kumasi Polytechnic (K Poly) has been closed down, authorities at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic (B Poly) have suspended the conduct of the end-of-semester examination.

The administration of the Takoradi Polytechnic (T Poly) is making all efforts to avert a possible closure of the school but the lecturers insist that “no money, no work, no examination”.

The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) started an indefinite strike on Monday, May 28, this year over what it said was feet-dragging by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) concerning issues pertaining to POTAG’s migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

In a statement, POTAG said its members would not return to work until their salaries under the SSSS had been paid into their accounts.

In Kumasi, following the protracted industrial action embarked upon by polytechnic teachers, the authorities at K Poly have closed down the school indefinitely.

According to the polytechnic teachers, their industrial action was precipitated by concerns over their migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

According to the authorities at K Poly, the status of the school stated that if lecturers continued to absent themselves from the classroom for 21 days or more, the school should be closed down.

Briefing graphic.com.gh, the Assistant Registrar of K Poly, Mr Robert Kyei Gyau, said the lecturers of the school had stayed away from academic work for more than 21 days, hence the need for the school to close down.

He said the industrial action started when students were preparing feverishly for their end-of-semester examination.

According to Mr Gyau, the authorities made alternative arrangements for non-teaching staff to supervise the examination but the teachers protested vehemently.

That, he said, made it impossible for the students to write their examination.

He said the Executive Committee of the polytechnic met on Wednesday to consider developments in the school following the strike and came to the conclusion that all students should vacate the school by Saturday, June 16, 2012.

Mr Gyau explained that since first and second-year students were to start attachment after vacation, they should use the period to go to the various institutions to begin the attachment.

The assistant registrar said final-year students, however, would be recalled to school as soon as POTAG called off its industrial action.

He said anytime the students returned to school, they would be given a week’s grace period to prepare for their final examination.

First and second-year students, would however, remain to complete their attachment and be made to write the semester examination afterwards.

In Bolgatanga, the authorities at B Poly had to stop the students from continuing with their examination due to a threat from POTAG

The Rector of the polytechnic, Dr Mba Atinga, said the school started conducting the examination from Monday but had communication from POTAG to suspend it or risk having the papers they had already written cancelled.

He said the decision to start the examination was informed by the fact that some polytechnics had already finished with their examination, while others were mid-stream when they were asked to stop.

Additionally, he said, rectors from the various polytechnics were part of the negotiations to find a solution to the POTAG problem.

He said the government had given every necessary assurance, backed with documentation, that POTAG’s demands would be met, but it seemed the association was sceptical about the government’s intention.

“I don’t know what evidence they are looking for again,” Dr Atinga said.

He said POTAG had communicated with the polytechnics that it would arrive at a decision on Friday and expressed the hope that the strike would be called off for the examination to continue.

In case of any eventuality, he said, the Polytechnic Council would have to decide on the next line of action to take, as the authorities had no mandate to close down the school.

The President of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of the B Poly, Mr Muntala Adama, advised students to exercise restraint and remain calm while the government and POTAG sought an amicable solution to the strike.

He said students had gone through a lot of pressure due to the strike.

“Apart from the psychological trauma, most students have overstretched their budgets and keeping them in school will only compound their hardships,” he said.

On the other hand, the end-of-semester examination at the Cape Coast Polytechnic (C Poly) was successfully completed Thursday, despite the strike by the lecturers.

The polytechnic administration resorted to administrators, technicians and national service persons to invigilate the examination.

The Chairman of the C Poly branch of POTAG, Mr Uriah Tetteh, said the lecturers had withdrawn three services — teaching, invigilation and project supervision — as part of the strike.

He, however, denied that the polytechnic had closed down as a result of the strike, explaining that since students had completed their examination, many of them had left for home.

He stated that the lecturers would continue with the strike until their salaries under the SSSS were paid into their accounts.

Meanwhile, T' Poly risk closure as the strike by POTAG enters its third week.

Examination scheduled for Monday, June 18 is likely to be postponed because the lecturers say “no money, no work and no examination”.

The acting Rector, Mr J.F. Eshun, said the authorities were doing everything possible to avert a possible closure.

He said a meeting with the members of POTAG yesterday did not yield any encouraging result.

“As we speak, the meeting has ended and the members said they were waiting for a congress in Accra to see the next line of action,' he said.

To err is human.
By: Sir Roy Kelly, Avian