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02.06.2005 General News

Moves To Resolve NAGRAT Strike

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...House Committee To Invite Parties The Parliamentary Committee on Education has decided to meet the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the striking National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) to find the solution to the problem.

At a meeting of the committee yesterday, it decided to invite the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service and NAGRAT on Wednesday, June 8,2005 to discuss how best the impasse could be resolved, reports Lucy Adoma Yeboah.

The chairman of the committee, Mr Baladoo Manu, said the committee decided to invite the parties because it wanted to see the end to the matter.

However, Mr Austin Gamey, a labour consultant, has suggested that a way out of the raging NAGRAT impasse was for the striking teachers to return to their mother union, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT).

The suggestion, however, registered negatively on the leadership of NAGRAT, whose President, Kwami Alorvi, described it as confusing and for that matter could not be taken seriously.

Mr Gamey had argued that since members of NAGRAT lacked the bargaining power to pursue their case, and also lacked the understanding of the processes of negotiation, it would help its cause to reunite with GNAT from whom it broke away.

But NAGRAT President Alorvi ascribed hypocrisy to that statement and demanded to know the initial stance of Mr Gamey, who was the Deputy Minister for Employment when NAGRAT was formed in 1996.

Mr Gamey who is the Chief Executive Officer of Gamey and Gamey Academy of Mediation, said NAGRAT should have collaborated with GNAT to discuss the issues together but because the two associations were behaving like a cat and a mouse, NAGRAT did not see the need to do so, reports Edmund Kofi Yeboah.

He said even if a re-union was not possible, being separate should not make them behave like a cat and a mouse, adding that they could work together and collaborate in their efforts.

Mr Gamey said the National Labour Commission (NLC) took the right decision on the matter because it would have set a bad precedent if it had allowed NAGRAT to negotiate without any bargaining power.

He said the onus was on the members of NAGRAT to accept the plea of Ghanaians and return to work, while the Ghana Education Service (GES) management took steps to address the issues in dispute.

“NAGRAT should return to the classroom so that it does not seem as if it is coercing the GES, the government and the entire country to submit to pressure,” he advised, adding that such a posture was in contravention of Section 127 (3) of the Labour Law.

On how the currrent stalemate could be resolved, Mr Gamey suggested to the management of GES to take NAGRAT outside the substantive issues already negotiated and signed for between it and GNAT, the custodian.

He said with regard to the invigilation allowance, for instance, the GES could grant members of NAGRAT a temporary “personal invigilation allowance” that could be extended to other teachers but would not necessarily be part of the collective agreement being sought by GNAT.

Mr Gamey said it appeared that the GES management lacked knowledge in employment relations and urged it to improve on that to avoid such impasse in the future. Responding, Mr Alorvi described Mr Gamey as a confusionist, saying that he contradicted himself in his presentation, reports Timothy Gobah.

Mr Alorvi said while the NLC said NAGRAT was an illegal body but dealt with it briefly and later asked it to return to the table with the GES, the Minister of Education blamed NAGRAT for not making itself available to the NLC.

He said the pronouncement by Mr Gamey was very unfortunate, since he was a Deputy Minister for Employment when NAGRAT was formed.

He explained that it would be a non-starter for Mr Gamey to suggest that GNAT and NAGRAT should collaborate when he witnessed the splitting of GNAT. Mr Alorvi explained further that the executives of GNAT worked under different conditions and enjoyed different entitlements.

He said while GNAT executives qualify for car loans, rent allowances and other largesse, NAGRAT executives still thought in the classrooms and enjoy the poor conditions for which they were fighting now and asked, “How then do we compare oranges and apples?”

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