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02.06.2005 General News

B/A NAGRAT support National Executives


Sunyani (B/A), June 2 GNA - The Brong-Ahafo Regional Branch of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has re-affirmed its solidarity with the Leadership of the Association in its pursuits to ensure that teachers got material rewards on this earth.

This was contained in a resolution about 300 members of NAGRAT passed at a meeting held at the Christ the King Cathedral at Sunyani on Wednesday.

The Officers were from Wenchi, Techiman, Atebubu, Mim/Goaso, Berekum/Dormaa and Sunyani zones with representatives from Tano (Bechem) and Jaman (Drobo/Sampa) Districts.

The vicinity of the Cathedral was set agog with the arrival of members from Techiman, whose placard-bearing members with some of them wearing red shirts and red bands paraded through some of the principal streets of Sunyani singing songs in praise of their National Executives for their leadership role since their strike action.

The teachers said they would not go back to the classroom until their grievances were addressed by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), Ghana Education Service (GES), Accountant - General's Department and West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

"In spite of the threats, intimidations, propaganda and the embargo to be placed on our salaries, we are solidly behind our national NAGRAT Council to press home our demands even if it will take years", they said.

Some of the placards read: "Osafo-Maafo's Salary to be Withdrawn by June Ending"; "Osafo-Maafo, a Harry Sawyerr Re-incarnate"; "Salary or no Salary the Strike Goes on Unabated"; "Is this Government of Development in Freedom or Fear and Intimidation?" "How Old is the National Labour Commission?" "No Concrete Agreement no Classes. Aluta Continua!!!"

Addressing the teachers, Mr Kwami Alorvi, National President of NAGRAT, said so long as the members showed solidarity with the Leadership they would remain unyielding until their demands were met. Mr Alovi announced that since the National Officers started their nation-wide tour on May 19, they had so far visited Cape Coast, Takoradi, Koforidua, Accra and Kumasi and described the attendance at Sunyani as "fantabulous".

"We shall never succumb to any intimidation whatsoever", he said. On the National Labour Commission's newspaper report that NAGRAT was not recognised by the new Labour Law, Act 2003, (Act 651), Mr Alorvi said NAGRAT registered as a unionised association even long before the establishment of the Commission and asked the Commission to go back to the archives to crosscheck.

Mr Alorvi, who is a tutor of Mfantsipim Secondary School, said it had reached a point where NAGRAT had to fight for the interest of members.

He said since they started their strike there had been so much tongue wagging from all quarters ranging from tribalism, propaganda and politics among other accusations.

On the Acting Director-General, Mr Michael Nsowah's warning of vacation of post, Mr Alorvi said, vacation of post was different from strike action.

He said vacation of post was applied at a time when the worker in question could not be traced anywhere, adding: "We alerted the authority before embarking on our strike action and of course our members have still been around but the difference has been that we are not teaching.

"The old practice, where teachers were trained to be meek and timid is now a thing of the past" he said, adding that the new crop of graduate teachers would not sit down unconcerned when their rights were being trampled upon.

Mr Ernest Dotsey, Financial Secretary, said teachers had been marginalized to the extent that even school children did not respect them.

Mr Dotsey, who said he had been teaching for 40 years, complained that despite his length of service he had nothing substantial to show after retirement due to the bad conditions of service, which had been in existence under the leadership of Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT).

He, therefore, called on members of NAGRAT to stand solidly behind the National Executive to enable them to champion their cause and to help to lift them up.

"If we don't win, we don't go to classroom", he said. Mr King Zakari, General Secretary of the Association, said since Headmasters and Headmistresses in second-cycle institutions, as Administrators, would not be expected to allow any teacher to go on strike, there was no need for any teacher to seek permission from any of them to go on strike

He compared allowances of some junior workers in the country stressing whilst some of them - non-graduates - got nearly one million cedis a month, a graduate teachers was paid 10,000 cedis a month and described this as mockery to the profession which needed to be rectified or changed.

Mr Adom Sekyi, Vice-President of NAGRAT, said the Association was formed because GNAT refused to seek their interest. In a welcoming address Mr Raphael K. Owusu, Brong-Ahafo Regional Chairman of NAGRAT, noted the sacrifices the Leadership was making and said, "there is light at the end of the tunnel". Mr Owusu said the Regional Branch of NAGRAT had enjoyed the co-operation and support of some heads of schools as well as the Media since the strike action.

The Brong-Ahafo Regional Immediate-Past Chairman of NAGRAT, Mr Owusu Brimpong, who chaired the meeting, said the graduate teachers started their agitation or struggle in 1996 when they realised that GNAT was not helping them.