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18.05.2006 General News

POTAG on indefinite strike

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Cape Coast, May 17, GNA - The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) on Wednesday said they were embarking on an indefinite strike action to back their demands for better salaries and conditions of service.

This was announced in a statement issued at a press conference after the association's 'emergency national congress' at Cape Coast. Mr Benjamin Otoo, national president of POTAG, who read the statement, said the industrial action was prompted by the government's inability to continue the finalization of negotiations on salaries and conditions of service.

He explained that POTAG had earlier, written to the National Labour Commission (NLC) on September 13, 2005 to lodge a complaint on the government's lukewarm attitude towards its negotiations with POTAG, and that the Commission in a reply dated October 5, 2005 promised to resolve the impasse within two weeks, but failed to do so. According to him, POTAG again wrote to the NLC on April 18, this year to remind it about the delay in addressing its grievances, and that the

last "negotiation meeting" with the government was held on March 10 this year, with the understanding that it was to be finalized by the end of the month, but this never happened.

He said the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, later wrote to POTAG on April 20, with the promise that "within two weeks, by May 4, it would communicate to it a date for final negotiations, which has also not happened.

Mr Otoo therefore described the government's response to their demand for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as "lackadaisical, piece meal and adhoc", which had not helped in addressing substantive issues of overdue conditions of service and salaries' structure.

According to him, the failure of the MMDE to fulfil its latest promise made POTAG apprehensive, and that in the face of the general increase in the cost of living, POTAG had no option other than to embark on the indefinite industrial action.

Giving a background with regard to the association's CBA, he explained that POTAG operates a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the government and that the government had failed to negotiate a new CBA since the last one expired in September 2003.

Mr Otoo also stated that every year, as per a memorandum of understanding signed between POTAG and the government, it was always invited to provide inputs to the annual budget, and claimed that since 2004, the association's inputs had not been factored in the budget. The congress was attended by all the executives of the association from the country's polytechnics, with the exception of those of the branches at Bolgatanga and Wa polytechnics.