The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has lamented the government’s unconcerned attitude during the renegotiation period after suspending its August Strike action.
Prof Gyampo, the University of Ghana Chapter Secretary of UTAG said the Government was still acting unconcerned during the renegotiation period.
Read His Submission Below:
UTAG Negotiations Simplified
Given that the expiration of the one-month ultimatum for negotiations, I write to simplify issues as follows:
- In 2013, the monthly take-home for an entry point university teacher, was a cedi equivalent of USD 2,084.
In 2021, the same lecturer’s entry point salary has been reduced to a cedi equivalent of USD 997, contrary to the accepted salary administration principle of not varying salaries of workers to their disadvantage, if it’s not for the purposes of punishment.
The 2013 entry point of USD 2,084 has reduced and eroded as at 2021 to USD 997 because of depreciation of the cedi, and the fact that the market premium component of the university teacher’s salary, has not been adjusted since 2013, due to government’s refusal to undertake a market survey, whose outcome would lead to an upward adjustment of the market premium component of the salary of the university teacher.
During the negotiations, it is significant to note that, UTAG asked for no salary increment. The teachers only asked to be restored to the 2013 salary value of the cedi equivalent of USD 2,084. But the government side said they could not do this because, they have no money and also, a restoration of UTAG to the 2013 values may open the floodgates for other labour unions to make demands on the government.
It is worth noting that, by asking for a restoration of UTAG to the 2013 values, UTAG was seeking a review of the basic salary and market premium components of the salary structure of its members. But the government insisted that UTAG alone could not negotiate its basic salary because, the principles of the single spine salary structure, require all labour union to be part of any negotiation that seeks to effect changes to the basic salary under the single spine. Also, as earlier indicated, the government side was unwilling to discuss adjustments to the market premium component of the salary structure because a market survey had to be carried out first. It is significant to note that, UTAG has constantly been told that the market survey would be undertaken, since 2013, and yet this survey never gets carried out.
- Given the above frustration, there was an agreement that the research component of the allowances of lecturers is increased to take university teachers back to the 2013 values. UTAG was therefore proposing the cedi equivalent of USD 1,087 to its current USD 997 salary per month.
But the government side said it could not afford it. UTAG, therefore, reduced its proposal to a cedi equivalent of USD 500 to work up to around 1500 USD per month, instead of the USD 2,084. It must be noted that the figure around USD 1500 was proposed because that was the entry point for a lecturer under the single spine around 2009.
But the government side again said they couldn’t pay the USD 500 top-up. UTAG then reduced its demand from USD 500 to USD 250. This would have increased monthly salary from the current USD 997, to USD1,247. The government promised to consult and revert, but this never happened till the expiration of the one month negotiation period. Therefore, officially, the government hasn’t communicated, but from top sources, the government is unwilling to appreciate the magnanimity of UTAG and hence not prepared to pay even the reduced amount proposed.
It must be noted that the National Executive Committee of UTAG has, up to date, not communicated the figures proposed at the negotiations to its members. But these rather low figures, which I know would have been rejected by members, we hear, cannot even be paid by the government.
In the course of the negotiations UTAG demonstrated with empirical evidence that, Ghanaian University lecturers were poorly paid compared to their counterparts in poor countries like Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone. They did not compare their salary structure with their counterparts in Kenya and South Africa m, just to save themselves from monumental embarrassment.
Some of us persuaded our colleagues to suspend the strike action and to go back to the negotiation table, not because we were ignorant of the untrustworthiness of some politicians. Rather certain key decent personalities and political gentlemen had shown concern about the plight of UTAG, and given assurances behind the scenes that, they would help in ensuring that the negotiations provide a win-win outcome. We couldn’t have doubted and more importantly, disrespected these personalities, and it is our prayer that they act now to salvage and protect the public trust we built for them, in convincing our colleagues to get back to the negotiation table.
But it appears the politician has all the reasons to improve his salary and conditions of service. Even when there is no money, he knows where to find some to improve his emoluments and that of his appointees. But when it comes to the conditions of service of public servants, and those whose sweat, the politician taxes to generate the income that he enjoys, the refrain is either “there’s no money” or “where are we going to find the money?”. Suddenly, the sources of funding for paying all illegal ex-gratias; the sources of funding to inordinately increase the conditions of service of article 71 office holders; and the sources of loans to acquire new vehicles for parliamentarians every four years, have mysteriously disappeared and the politician wants us to understand the mythically perplexing explanations, that simply says there is no money to improve the conditions of service of public servants, but at the same time, there is more than enough money to make life comfortable for article 71 office holders.
The question is, how did the politician become more important than the teacher and when did the work of the politician and the article 71 officer holder, become more difficult to warrant better conditions of service, than the teacher who taught them? If things do not change in the next couple of days, we are likely to mobilize the mother of all strike actions in Ghana, not against the government, but to advance our course in seeking better conditions of service. If the government chooses to punish us because of the strike, by withholding our salaries, we would endure with our families and the informal sector of the economy. If they decide to jail all of us for being defiant, we will go to prison and come. If they jail the UTAG leadership, members will remain on strike in solidarity. If they decide to kill us, the matter would be solved, as we would have eternal rest from the disrespect and bitter maltreatment from politicians. Now, more than ever, we are of the firm belief and conviction that, it is better for us to suffer hardships and punishment today, to secure our future than to accept pittance today and jeopardize our tomorrow.
Whiles we deploy our thoughts in mobilization, I wish to remind labour unions in Ghana that, it was in response to the lack of commitment to improving the conditions of service of labour by the political establishment, that labor unions in the UK came together to form the British Labor Party, just to champion the course of workers. This partially explains why such countries like the UK have strong middle class, where the politician and public servant can keep their heads above water in terms of conditions of service. It’s about time we came together as labour unions in Ghana, not to form a political party, but to disrupt the salary class situations created and enjoyed by only politicians and article 71 office holders, with the support of very discriminatory and bogus legislations, and to restore a classless social equilibrium, that would ensure equitable distribution of resources and assure us of the needed political stability, and cohesion for national development.
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