Accra, Sept. 27, GNA - The Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment said on Tuesday that it was surprised that the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) had threatened to embark on strike and advised them to think of the implications of its intended action against the background of the Labour Act.
In a statement signed by Mr Kofi Aggrey, Public Relations Officer, the Ministry said it was surprised by the assertion of POTAG that discussions to resolve the matters had not yielded results. It said the issue of salary arrears due to senior and junior staff of tertiary institutions, including all polytechnics, had been dealt with at such discussions.
"The Ministry of Finance has accordingly, per its letter dated 19th September, 2005 authorised the Controller and Accountant-General to pay salary arrears resulting from the 22 per cent salary adjustment from April to September 2005.
"The necessary correspondence in this regard was shown to the POTAG Leadership."
The Ministry said the outstanding issue now was the negotiation for 2006 salaries in respect of which the necessary mandate was being sought and POTAG was aware.
"In this connection, it would be unfair on the part of POTAG to accuse the Ministry of being unprepared to negotiate salaries for 2006 and on the basis of that to decide to embark on strike action." The Ministry drew POTAG's attention to the fact that the new Labour Act laid down the procedures to be followed by any party that intended to embark on strike action.
"These procedures must be completely exhausted. Under the circumstances, POTAG is being advised to think of the implications of its intended strike.
"The Ministry rather finds it unacceptable that all such negotiations and threats of strike action are related in effect to salaries that are expected to be paid only in the future - 2006." The National Secretariat of POTAG on Tuesday declared an indefinite strike action and asked all members to comply accordingly with the action.
A statement in Accra signed by Mr Michael Brigandi, General Secretary of POTAG, said the Association had so far been denied the opportunity to negotiate for better salaries and conditions of service, which it wanted to be factored into the 2006 national budget. It, therefore, requested all members to abide by the guidelines given regarding the strike action, following the elapsing of the 26 September extension of the ultimatum given to the Government to negotiate with POTAG over their conditions of service.
Mr James Annan, Chairman of the Accra Polytechnic branch of POTAG, told the GNA on Tuesday that members decided to embark on the action because Monday's meeting between its Executives and the Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, Mr Joseph Adda failed to address their concerns.