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Response To UTAG UEW Statement On The Strike Action Dated 7TH September 2017

This response was sent to the UTAG UEW Secretary on the 12th of September, 2017, for distribution to all the 309 members on his mailing list. He has however failed to do so, after 24 hours, hence, compelling the author to publish his position, and that of concerned UTAG UEW via this wider media platform.

It is now clear to us all UTAG-UEW members that the current executives have no motive for calling the strike apart from mischief, selfish, parochial and personal interest. This can be seen from the strike-calling message sent to UTAG-UEW members by the President dated September 7, 2017, a day after the excutives had called a meeting and the issue of the strike had come up for discussion. This has been reinforced by text messages circulated to members on Monday, September 11, 2017, asking members to withdraw their participation from all academic activities. All colleagues who were present at the last meeting can attest to the fact that several members, including some very senior members and Professors, had called on the executives to call off the strike, while other alternative resolution methods are being pursued.

In fact, the UTAG-UEW President had strongly indicated to members that he could bet on his own self-avowed principles that the case would be over in a matter of weeks, due to the alternative mechanisms they had pursued, and dared members to mark his statement indelibly on their bodies. While members clamoured for the strike to be called off officially, the UTAG-UEW President deferred any decision on the strike to the UTAG National on the defeatist notion that it was UTAG National that had decided that we embark on a strike action and they alone could determine whether the strike could be called off or not.

Interestingly, anyone who has closely followed the course of the declaration of the strike, and indeed the court action, would by now know that UTAG National has NEVER declared any strike action on behalf of UEW. What UTAG National has always purported to do, albeit irresponsibly, has been to indicate their support for the strike action declared by UTAG UEW executives. This declaration of strike action by UTAG-UEW Executives, amplified by the President on some media platforms, has been unilateral ab initio.

The UTAG National President has also been on several radio and television platforms trumpeting his support for the strike action declared by UTAG-UEW. Discerning people should please cast their minds back to the day the strike action was declared by the UTAG UEW President and let us ask these questions:

WHEN DID WE MEET AS A HOUSE TO DECLARE OR AFFIRM THE STRIKE ACTION DECLARED BY OUR FOUR EXECUTIVES?

At various UTAG-UEW meetings, the UTAG-UEW President and the other three executives have always danced evasively around the call for a motion to be moved to decide on the strike action. Knowing very well that they do not have the support of the members, they have always refused or dismissed the call for a vote to be taken on the strike action, deferring the determination of such a decision to UTAG National. The question is, why should UTAG National decide a positive action on our behalf when those in whose interest the strike action is being called have NEVER been given the opportunity to decisively make a determination on the action?

In the past, whether at the national level or local level, a declaration of strike by executives has always been initiated first, at the local level by members or affirmed by same members if the declaration was first made by UTAG Executives in the supreme interest of members. Never has the declaration of a strike action failed to come back to members for affirmation or total support. Why is this one uncharacteristically different? What motive drives such a puerile agenda?

We the concerned Lecturers, join our colleagues in Kumasi and Mampong campuses and declare ONCE AGAIN that WE ARE NOT ON STRIKE!

Now, let us discuss individually, the latest lame seven-point call for us to continue with the strike action to the inconvenience and confusion of members and students.

Point number one; that, “The Council since its inauguration on July 18, 2017 has not taken any practical steps to resolve the problem amicably, despite the call by the President of the Republic of Ghana on the Council to do so.”

The above is just another dust that is being thrown into the eyes of unsuspecting members and the general public. Since its inauguration, the Council has taken several measures, including the very dominant ones that UTAG-UEW founded their strike action on. Indeed, the Governing Council since its inauguration has, among other things, ratified all appointments, promotions, certificates and diplomas processed within the period in contention. These all important ratifications were publicly announced by the Chairman of the University Governing Council, Professor E. N. Abakah, at the University's last Congregation ceremonies at which His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, the President was present, as the Special Guest of Honour. What other practical steps have the executives got in mind?

On the same preceding issue, it is important to note that the UTAG-UEW President, who is now copiously quoting Nana Akuffo Addo to support his lame cause, boycotted the very Congregation ceremony where the number one gentleman of the land made that statement. His reason was that he was on strike and would not dignify the President of the land with his presence. Now he can hypocritically use the words expressed on the same platform to support his illogical call to strike.

Ponit number two; that the Council Chairman has unilaterally written a letter dated July 21, 2017 to the university lawyer to immediately withdraw the whole appeal process filed at the Court of Appeal against the interlocutory injunction ruling, delivered by the High Court in Winneba, despite the serious implications for the image of the University.

This is another weak position that the UTAG President has been advocating, to shore up none existing support for his unilateral declaration of the strike. What are the reasons for the position? If we have not heard the side of the Council Chairman on his reason for issuing such a directive, why do we have to proceed on strike on the whims and caprices of our local UTAG President? Just because a letter has been written not to proceed on appeal? Is it not contradictory that you seek a withdrawal of the case from court and yet you want the University to marshal resources to embark on an appeal?

Point number three; that although, the Council Chairman had indicated that there is an attempt to withdraw the case from the High Court, by both parties for an out-of-court settlement, nothing of that sort has happened till date, as the plaintiff has still not submitted his terms of settlement.

Members, can you imagine this being bandied around as a reason for strike? Because “plaintiff has still not submitted his terms of settlement”? So we should embark on strike against who? The Plaintiff, we guess! This is so laughable!! Imagine what will happen if plaintiff decides that he is unwilling to seek an out of court settlement and would want to go all the way with the litigation. I guess the University will be closed down, to succumb to the interest of the UTAG-UEW President, because a recalcitrant Akpeteshie seller plaintiff seeks to correct the wrongs in an academic system. Just imagine colleagues!

Point number four; that the Pro-VC has written to the contractors working on our GUSSS projects to stop work and this further puts the contributions of our members in serious jeopardy.

The first reaction on this is that UTAG UEW Executives have continuously and contemptuously refused to recognise the position of the Ag. Vice-Chancellor as such. For God’s sake, the man is the Ag. Vice Chancellor, a position he occupies based on a High Court order and derived from UEW statutes. No Pro-VC can write to any contractor to stop any University project. It is only a VC or an Ag. VC who has the power to do that. If UTAG UEW executives believe that the Ag. VC has no such power, let them proceed to court and we shall all support such noble and relevant cause in the supreme interest of the University. Some of us respect the High Court which has made same the Acting VC and he remains so until same court decides otherwise. After all, didn’t a VC with all the powers invested in him sanction the GUSSS project? Can’t another invested with same powers put it on hold? Selective perception indeed!

Point number five; that even though the Council Chairman had announced at the recent congregation that all certificates and appointments have been ratified, this is not the case as the exercise was done selectively and still left out the Vice Chancellor (VC) and the Finance Officer (FO). This creates the impression that the two officers are already guilty when the case is still before the court

Our response is very simple. The issue of the appointment of the VC and FO is a matter that is still pending in court. Why do we have to go on strike because of such issue? Why can’t we wait till October 9? What do the Executives fear? Surely, we are becoming the laughing stock of academia in Ghana.

Point number six; that although the court ruling indicated that the Pro-VC should act until the Council is put in place or until the final determination of the case in Court, and since the Council is in place now, the Ag. VC is supposed to vacate his position, but he is still at post and thus, preventing any move for the VC to return to his post.

We wonder who has been making interpretations of the court rulings to our Executives. Surely, it can never be by any experienced legal practitioner. Otherwise how could anyone at this academic height make such erroneous interpretation of a ruling that is so straight forward? Where in the ruling did they indicate that once a Council is put in place the VC should move to his post? This is dust throwing, mischief, propagandist positioning and unreasonableness in the highest order. Simply put, our executives erred and we shall not be persuaded to go on strike because of their erroneous interpretation of such an important High Court order!

Point number seven; that the Council has up till date not reached out to the VC and FO in an attempt to assure them that the problem would be resolved amicably.

This is surely the icing on the cake of propaganda and mischief by our Executives. So, a whole executive of this intellectual standing can ask their over 300 members to proceed on strike because someone has not been assured his case will be resolved amicably? So we should go on strike because of point number 7? Colleagues, the action of our four Executives with regards to this issue is making us the objects of ridicule in academic circles in Ghana. In other jurisdictions, they would have resigned honourably or, simply, pushed out.

Finally Colleagues, we leave you to read this statement to make your own wise vision judgment. Surely, we the concerned lecturers continue to state that the UTAG UEW Executives are not championing the interest of their members and the university. The call for strike should be defied and resisted. It is, and has NEVER been in the interest of UEW.

ARE WE ON STRIKE? WE DECLARE EMPHATICALLY, NO!
Alhassan Salifu Bawah
(son of a peasant farmer)

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Alhassan Salifu Bawah

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