…It Will Continue Unabated
“I want to ask the Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama to tell the nation why his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not join the then largest political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) before the 2000 elections, but rather went ahead to contest for political power, if he thinks indeed there is strength in numbers?
In spite of the numerous calls and appeals from various quarters asking the striking teachers to return to their classrooms, the General Secretary of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr. Munkayila King Zakari, has declared that nothing could influence them to abandon their strike action.
Mr. Munkayila, who rubbished the threat of court action by the National Labour Commission (NLC) and the call by government to join forces with their mother association, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), and enter into negotiation with the government, maintained, “the NAGRAT strike is a destiny strike and will continue unabated.”
Addressing a large number of graduate teachers at their national rally in Tamale, the General Secretary also rebuked the Vice President for a statement he reportedly made at the recent National Best Teachers' Awards ceremony in Bolgatanga, advising NAGRAT to rejoin GNAT and saying “there is strength in numbers; so therefore NAGRAT must join GNAT for better negotiations”.
“I want to ask the Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama to tell the nation why his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), did not join the then largest political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), before the 2000 elections, but rather went ahead to contest for political power independently if he thinks indeed there is strength in numbers?”
Mr. Munkayila was optimistic however that NAGRAT would also succeed in their fight for better conditions of service just as the NPP succeeded in their battle for political power. The rally was to educate members of NAGRAT on the importance of the ongoing strike.
On why NAGRAT had failed to be part of the negotiation scheduled for October 16, 2006, the General Secretary asserted that GNAT and the government were bedfellows and that the national executives of NAGRAT believed strongly that nothing meaningful would come the way of teachers after the negotiation. He cited instances where GNAT had failed to live up to expectations.
The rally however described as “discriminatory” government's singling out just one out of the entire public sector and addressing problems of only its members without equal consideration for others within the sector.
According to the National President of NAGRAT, Mr. Kwame Alorvi, all teachers in Ghana were suffering from massive oppression and most of them, in spite of their extra duties or responsibilities, could not afford to cater for their families.
He emphasized that teachers and for that matter graduate teachers would never go back to the classrooms until the government met all their demands.
Mr. Alorvi disclosed that teachers had not seen any increment in salaries since 2000; their responsibility allowances remained ¢10,000 per form masters, ¢15,000 for Senior Housemasters and ¢50,000 and ¢30,000 for headmasters with student populations of over 800 and below, respectively.
The National Financial Secretary of the association, Mr. Obrumankoma Dotsey, said NAGRAT's fight was a fight for all teachers and therefore promised the readiness of the national executives to forfeit even their lives for the members at all levels.
“Government can't tell us to go back to the classroom because this strike action is now or never.” The Deputy General Secretary of NAGRAT, Mr. Stanislaus Nabome, was of the view that society would not see the importance of a teacher if they continued to allow their love for their students to outweigh their own welfare.
“Teachers must not wait until poverty reaches a level where a teacher would wear only one shirt and beg before eating,” he called. “The time is now and you must all support us the national executives for success.”