09.10.2006 Education

NAGRAT accuses Ministry of allegedly distorting facts about their strike

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The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has accused Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of allegedly distorting facts about their strike action to the public.

They denied that in their grievances to the Ministry and Ghana Education Service (GES) they demanded that scholarship should be awarded to two children of each graduate teacher from basic to the tertiary level.

The association made the denial at a teachers rally organized by the Eastern Region branch of NAGRAT at Koforidua.

It said they were demanding fairness and equity in the salary structure of government workers which was in the interest of all workers.

The association asked its members to be prepared for a long strike action, harassment and intimidation with possible stoppage of their salaries by GES.

Mr Kwame Alorvi, National President of NAGRAT explained that the association embarked on the strike action because of the refusal of GES to honour various Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) entered into with the association.

He said last year, it was agreed that graduate teachers who invigilated at examinations conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC), would be paid 25,000 cedis per an examination.

Mr Alorvi said GES agreed to pay 10,000 cedis of the cost while WAEC paid the remaining 15,000 cedis.

He said since last year, WAEC had paid its share of 15,000 cedis due teachers who supervised the examinations but GES had failed to honour its part of the bargain.

Mr Alorvi said under another MOU agreed upon, GES agreed to review the salaries of teachers from Assistant Director and above in line with a similar one which was done for Graduate and other teachers of lower grades and the amount was included in the 2006 budget.

He said GES was dragging its feet on the issue and at the moment, some teachers had received theirs while others had not insisting that, until all the amount involved were paid to all graduate teachers who were supposed to benefit from the arrangements, NAGRAT members would stay at home.

Mr Alorvi said another reason for embarking on the strike action was that, the Acting Director General of GES, Mr Michael Nsowah whom they accused of being the impediment in the implementation of most of the MOU that the association entered into with the GES was on retirement and did not understand why he should continue to be in office.

He said the association was therefore, insisting that if Mr Nsowah continued to be in office, members of the association would not return to the classroom.

Mr Alorvi said one of the campaign promises made by the Government before it won the 2000 elections was to give workers of Ghana a living wage, but it had not been able to fulfil its promise for the past six years.

He said now that Government had been able to provide what could be described as a living wage for Health Service workers, Government could use that as the basis to review salaries of all public workers in the country.

Mr Mukaila King Zakaria, General Secretary of NAGRAT, called on Ghanaians to stop paying lip service to the role of teachers and give them their rightful reward on earth.

Papa Owusu Ankomah, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, last Wednesday reiterated his appeal to all striking members of NAGRAT to resume work while negotiations for better service conditions continued.

He said this was because parents were sacrificing a lot to ensure the smooth education of their children in second cycle institutions.

In a statement issued in Accra, Papa Owusu Ankomah said salaries of all workers in the public sector, including NAGRAT members, were being looked at by the Government.

In line with this, two meetings had already been held with organised labour, including the teachers' union and public sector representatives of workers on new salaries for all workers.

“Currently, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) are seriously preparing to engage in negotiations on conditions of service for all categories of teachers,” Papa Owusu-Ankomah said.

He said GNAT submitted its input on September 29 and since only GNAT and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) were the only bodies with bargaining certificate, GES was studying the GNAT proposals to enable negotiations to commence.

“While the Ministry acknowledges the right of NAGRAT members to form an association, since GNAT is the only union with a collective bargaining certificate, it should be made clear that the GES cannot by law negotiate the terms and conditions of service of teachers with any other association.”

Papa Owusu-Ankomah said in spite of this, the Government, being their employer had on various occasions, through GES, held discussions with the National Executive of NAGRAT in an effort to amicably resolve their concerns.

“Once again, we wish to reiterate that matters concerning improved service conditions by any group should be done in conformity with the Labour Laws of the country and urge NAGRAT to join GNAT for the negotiations.”

Papa Osusu-Ankomah said the Acting Director-General of the GES, Mr Michael Nsowah had been engaged on contract until a substantive Director-General was appointed.

NAGRAT is asking for the replacement of Mr Nsowah since his compulsory retirement was due last year.

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