NUGS Begs Teacher Unions Over Strike

Leaders Of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) have appealed to teacher unions in the country to control the frequency of strike actions embarked upon in attempts to compel government to response to their grievances. The union has stated that although lecturers may have legitimate concerns, they should endeavour to rescind their decisions in certain instances due to the consequence of such industrial actions on students. Their plea was hinged on a months-long strike the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) had embarked on to demand the payment of their Book and research Allowance, and another “indefinite strike” the University Teachers Association (UTAG) recently embarked on. Sammy Dakwa Binfoh, President of NUGS, made the request at a stakeholders’ meeting between the executives of the student union and leaders of some teacher associations in Accra. He said government had assured that the grievances of teachers would be addressed, but the student body must also engage the various unions to better understand specific concerns teachers had raised. He stated: “We don’t have to depend solely on government information churned out by the media. We must meet with the stakeholders so that our own actions, in future, would be grounded on realities and not rumour.” The president stated that issues such as the supply of teaching and learning materials, the prompt payment of government subventions and the settlement of fringe benefits for teachers must also be addressed. He said extensive consultation between government and the respective unions on attempts to establish a National research Fund was ideal. However, he said, when government appeared to take an entrenched position on the issue without paying attention to the views of teachers, the policy would continue to suffer resistance. He added that NUGS would continue to plead with teacher unions so that students do not suffer the effects of impasses between government and lecturers. “We would collaborate with the teacher unions to ensure their grievances are resolved amicably. We want to assure them that we are in the battle with them as they fight for what they deserve”, Mr. Binfoh noted. Christian Okla Odoi, Deputy General Secretary, NAGRAT, repeated that the delay in releasing capitation grants and the delay in implementing the Second Tier Pension Policy for teachers were, among others, the concerns of teachers at the secondary level. He said teachers appreciated government’s assurance to address their needs but said they would continue to press until such promises manifested in the lives of lecturers and teachers.