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23.05.2005 General News

NAGRAT sticks to its guns

By GNA

Accra, May 23, GNA - Mr Kwami Alorvi, President of the National Graduate Teachers Association (NAGRAT), on Monday said members of the Association would not call off the on-going strike action until the concerns they have raised were addressed.

"Anytime we embarked on strike action, we would be compelled to call it off with the promise that our concerns will be addressed but nothing happens.

"We have been deceived all this while and this time we will not go back to the classrooms until our problems are solved," Mr Alorvi told the Ghana News Agency in a telephone interview from Cape Coast. He said the National Labour Commission (NLC) at a meeting with NAGRAT Executives last Wednesday, appealed to them to call off the strike action while they resolved the issue but they told them similar arrangements did not work in the past and that they were not interested in such empty appeals.

NAGRAT from the beginning of the term embarked on a strike action to drive home their demands for good condition of service, review of West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) invigilating allowance and upward adjustment of Additional Teaching Allowances.

Mr Alorvi alleged that after meeting with the Commission, the Acting Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Mr Michael Nsowah sent directives to Heads of Schools to furnish him with the number of teachers on strike, their subjects and the number of teachers they would need to augment the Service of those on strike.

Mr Alorvi said; "the directives showed the insensitivity of their employer - Ghana Education Service - to0wards their plight and concerns."

The President of NAGRAT, who said he was indisposed and currently undergoing medical treatment at Cape Coast, indicated that although they were supposed to meet the Commission on Tuesday they later received a letter that the meeting had been put off because NAGRAT was not qualified as a labour union to negotiate.

He, however, said he would convene a National Executive Meeting to study the reasons given by the Commission and plan for the next line of action.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Commission, Mr J.A. Aryitey, in a press statement denied arranging a meeting between NAGRAT and the Commission on Tuesday.

He said the meeting was supposed to come on last Saturday to enable the Commission to communicate its proposals on the matter to them but this was turned down with the excuse that the NAGRAT President was indisposed and that they would meet them on Tuesday May 24, 2005. Mr Aryitey said the Commission found NAGRAT's excuse untenable since the Association had 17 National Executives, who should be able to prosecute its cause in the absence of its President.

"Besides, the NLC sees as very crucial, the need for an expeditious resolution of the matter to enable the innocent victims- the students, to go back to school."

The Chairperson said the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) defined clearly the dispute resolution mechanism and that the NLC created under the Act had the responsibility of ensuring that all players in the Labour Market complied with the provisions of the law.

He said that under section 88 of the Act, NAGRAT has not properly brought itself under the law to enjoy the rights and powers conferred on bodies recognised under the law. Mr Aryitey, therefore, appealed to NAGRAT to resume work while they took steps to have a Standing Joint Negotiating Committee, as provided for by Section 102 of the Act to have their issues resolved once and for all.

When the GNA visited some second-cycle institutions in the Accra Metropolis earlier in the day, the majority of students were found loitering about on the various campuses, while a few were found dotted in classrooms doing their own private studies.

The Headmistress of the Labone Secondary School, Mrs Joyce Agyekum said though the situation was pathetic, the graduate teachers had no option than to wait for directives from the leadership of NAGRAT. She said that the situation could adversely affect the performance of students in the forthcoming Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), which were some few months away.

She said that out of the 82 teachers in the school, only one was a Diploma holder, adding that some teachers out of sympathy had been assisting the third year students in solving some of their problems. "This does not mean that they are violating the decision of NAGRAT," she said.

The Headmaster of the St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, Mr Edwin Okyere Ababio said the services of some student teachers from the University of Education Winneba, who were currently on practical, were helping to run some classes.

He was also worried about the effect of the strike action on the students' performance in the SSCE, and appealed to the GES to hasten procedures to resolve the grievances of the teachers.

Visual Arts students, who had to submit their practical works by the end of the first week of June, said though they were being assisted by their Art Mistress to meet the deadline, they were not certain if their works would be submitted at all, due to the strike action. They, therefore, appealed to NAGRAT to reconsider their decision and for government to find a lasting solution to the grievances of the teachers since their future was being put into danger. 23 May 05

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