The President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr Eric Angel Carbonou says the striking teachers are going to return to the classroom following a court order on Wednesday.
The National Labour Commission (NLC) on Wednesday [December 11, 2019] filed an ex parte interlocutory application at the Accra High Court arguing that the strike declared by teachers over their legacy arrears was illegal.
According to the NLC, the teachers did not follow laid down procedure before proceeding on the strike and therefore filed the application to restrain the teachers from continuing with the strike.
The restraining order from the High Court signed by Justice Amanda Aikings said upon reading the affidavit of the Executive Secretary of the NLC, Mr Ofosu Asamoah, the respondents [striking teachers - NAGRAT, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers], whether by themselves, executives, officers, members, servants, employees or agents are to comply with the directives of the NLC to return to the classroom.
The order is for a period of 10 days after which it may be repeated on notice.
Last Monday, members of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers-Ghana (CCT-GH) began a nationwide strike due to what they said were delays in the payment of legacy arrears which spanned between 2012-2016.
The unions said, among other things, that they were concerned about the payment of the arrears because their checks had revealed that the arrears had been verified and approved for payment by the Controller and Accountant-General’s Internal Audit Unit about three weeks earlier.
However, they said when the verified data were handed over to the Ghana Education Service (GES) for review and action, the GES would not budge because it claimed some discrepancies had been discovered with some of the payments already effected.
A statement by the Chairman of the NLC, Mr Andy Kwabena Asamoah, said on December 5, 2019, the commission invited the representatives of the teachers to appear before it to resolve the impasse relating to the legacy arrears which had culminated in a threat of strike.
“The unions failed to appear before the commission and to call off their threatened strike which was to take effect from December 9, 2019.
“Having disobeyed the directive of the NLC, issued together with its letter summoning the parties to appear before it on December 10, 2019, as well as embarking on an illegal strike action, the commission upon an application to the high court ...secured an injunction restraining the said unions,” it said.
The NLC on Tuesday directed the striking teachers to call off their industrial action and return to work.
It said in the exercise of the authority conferred in it by Section 139 (1)(b) of Act 651, it found the associations’ action in violation of Act 651 and, therefore, the ongoing strike by the unions was illegal.
A statement signed by the Chairman of the NLC, Mr Andy Kwabena Asamoah, said the commission had, on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, met the representatives of the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ministry of Education and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, but representatives of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT-GH) were absent.
The statement said NAGRAT, GNAT and CCT-GH failed to notify the NLC and its employer of the ongoing nationwide strike, in contravention of Section 159 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651.
Responding to the court order in a radio interview on Accra based Citi FM, Mr Angel Carbonou confirmed that the court order had come to the notice of the leadership of the teachers and that they have directed members to return to the classroom.
"Yes, we will direct our members to return to the classroom for the next 10 days and after that the Labour Commission will have to go to court on notice, it will have to continue going to court to repeat the process on notice," Mr Carbonou said.
He said the NLC will have to continue to go to court to keep the teachers at bay from organising the strike and as and when they [NLC] fail to repeat the process on notice, the strike will commence.
"By the misbehaviour of the Labour Commission, this court ruling estops all engagements that we have with the Labour Commission and any other persons until this issue is exhausted since it is further ordered that this order is for a period of 10 days, after which it may be repeated, we will have to wait and estopped from whatever engagements we are engaged in, for the repetition of this issue for every 10 days until such a time that the repetition is not done for the strike to commence," Mr Carbonou said.
"We are unwillingly going back to the classroom as a result of a court order which is valid for 10 days, that is what the order says, because it is an ex parte motion that was moved in court, and the lifetime of an ex parte motion is 10 days. So in as much as the ex parte motion is alive for 10 days, we are unwillingly obeying that court order for 10 days, if the Labour Commission fails to go and repeat the motion ex parte, if it so wishes, then it means that at the lapse of that 10 days the strike will commence," Mr Carbonou added.
Mr Carbonou said the engagement with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the NLC cannot continue "because they have rendered themselves impotent of continuing with any engagement because they have gone to court to seek a court order to compel us, not compelling us by the statutes that establish them. So for me if they invite me, once they've taken me to court and it is the court that is giving me an order, if they invite me, I will not go."
Source: Daily Graphic
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