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05.10.2004 General News

Researchers on strike

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Accra Oct. 5, GNA - The Research Staff Association of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has embarked on a nationwide strike to back the demands for better salaries and remuneration for members and their research works.

The Association asked its members participating in the Presidential Special Initiatives (PSI) to withdraw their services immediately. Addressing a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, Mr Boasiako Ohene Antwi, President of the Association, said since 1998, Researchers had been denied their modest share in terms of salary increases.

Mr Antwi said the strike action, which began on October 1 would continue until the Government met their requests. He said the Association had explored all avenues to ensure that their needs were met but the Ministry of Environment and Science and other stakeholders had taken no action.

Mr Antwi said: "It is unfortunate that, as Scientists we have to withdraw our services to the public, against our own will, in protest to the treatment given to professional scientists in Ghana.

"We are yet to get approval for demands we started making since June 2003. When our colleagues have been offered 15 per cent salary, increase effective January 2004, we are being asked to take 10 per cent effective July 2004. There have been previous losses in our salaries while our colleagues elsewhere received their full share."

Mr Antwi said due to no or grossly inadequate funding for research by the Government and the investigative nature of their profession, they were forced to use part of their salaries for research adding "this makes our colleagues retire with no home, transport and live in abject poverty".

Mr Antwi said the way and manner in which Scientists in the country were treated ridiculed science and urged the Government to take a serious look at issues raised and give them the needed recognition. He said the nation was paying lip service to science and technology and was encouraging girls to take up science "but the women on the field are running away to sell on the markets where their colleagues have made it. This history needs to be terminated".

Mr Antwi recounted the important role researchers had played in fetching the nation million of cedis and dollars adding "considering that some institutes receive as little as eight million cedis per year for research."

He said despite Government's main agenda now to create wealth and reduce poverty through agricultural productivity, "the CSIR through its activities has been the main engine powering the drive towards agricultural productivity".

Mr Antwi said currently there was no real incentive in maintaining research appointments in Ghana, adding, dedicated personnel in critical research areas had had to resort to leaving their motherland for well paid international projects and programmes for a decent living.

He urged the Government to take a serious look at some of the important researches undertaken by the CSIR so that more scientists would put up their best.