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General News of Monday, 4 June 2012

Source: Daily Guide

POTAG Snubs Minister

THE POLYTECHNIC Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) has rubbished a statement by the Minister of Education, Lee Ocran that they would not be paid if they continued with their strike action.

POTAG embarked on an indefinite strike last week in protest against the delay in the payment of their new salaries after their migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS), the new pay policy.

Members of POTAG, after several months of struggle with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), were finally migrated onto the new pay policy, but are yet to be given their due under the new policy.

Fed up with several attempts to get the government to order the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to pay their new salaries into their account, POTAG announced a nationwide indefinite strike last week.

Though the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning was said to have written a letter directing the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to effect the payment, checks conducted by POTAG indicated that the said letter was yet to be delivered to the department.

Instead of resolving the problem, the Minister of Education, Lee Ocran, condemned the strike action and threatened that the Polytechnic teachers would not be paid should they continue their strike.

Worsening the already bad situation was the declaration by the National Labour Commission (NLC) that the strike action was illegal and that POTAG should submit to compulsory arbitration.

In order to find an appropriate response to the emerging issues surrounding their industrial action, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the association had a meeting at the campus of the Kumasi Polytechnic.

After the closed-door marathon meeting, the association resolved to ignore the threats coming from Mr. Ocran.

The association, according to Kusi Boafo, Vice Chairman of the K-Poly chapter of POTAG, resolved to continue with the action till their request was met by the government.

Mr. Boafo indicated that if government was committed to paying them, the purported letter written by the Finance Minister directing the Controller and Accountant General’s Department would have been handed over to them by now.

He explained that apart from the fact that the said letter had not be handed to the department, the letter did not contain any specifics as to when and how the payment should be carried.

The Vice Chairman pointed out that after agreeing on specifics as to the market premium and other allowances, his outfit was waiting for an order from the Finance Minister on how and when the Controller and Accountant General’s Department should pay them.

Mr. Boafo said their checks revealed that the department had not been served with the letter.

This development, according to the Vice Chairman, clearly showed that the President Mills-led government was not dedicated to migrating POTAG onto the new pay policy.

In view of this, he stated that they were not ready to call off their strike action and that they would only do so when they realized that they had been paid the agreed amounts.

He said they struggled for several months before they got the FWSC to agree on certain conditions that saw them being migrated onto the new pay policy and would therefore not relent in their efforts till they saw the money in their accounts.

The Vice Chairman pointed out that if the NLC had a voice to summon them to compulsory arbitration then they should use the voice to tell government to pay their money, or else shut up.

The strike action, in its second week, has affected the supervision of project works by final year students and the end of semester examination.

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