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Feature Article of Friday, 27 April 2012

Columnist: Kyei-Gyau & Boakye

Tertiary Education Senior Administrators Deserve Fair Deal

Senior administrators of polytechnics live in a perpetual state of apprehension over the Single Spine “promised land” which is fast turning out to be a farce.

In fact, if fallouts from negotiations between the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA) are true, then senior polytechnic administrators’ apprehension is founded.

Even though the FWSC is yet to invite our leaders for negotiations on the Single Spine pay policy, senior polytechnic administrators have had their heightened hopes for a fair pay, dashed. This is because, last week, news on market premium offers the FWSC is said to have made to the GAUA during their negotiations, got to us.

The FWSC is reported to have offered the GAUA varying levels of market premium starting from as low as 30 per cent of basic salary. This is not only insulting but very demoralising for senior administrators in all tertiary institutions.

Even though this may not concern senior members in polytechnic administration now, it may have serious repercussions for us when the time comes for our leaders to start negotiations with FWSC. There is an Akan proverb which says: “When you see your neighbour’s beard on fire, you protect yours with water”.

Is it really true that Mr. Smith Graham told the GAUA leadership during their negotiations last week that, senior administrators in tertiary institutions do not deserve a parity in market premium with their counterpart lecturers because, without them tertiary institutions would still function?

So, Mr. Graham and his people believe that a senior administrator in a tertiary institution, who holds a second degree and works a tortuous eight hours a day and sometimes taking work home is less important than his colleague in the classroom?

Are they saying that we should all head to the classroom if we expect higher remuneration?

The FWSC should realise that the relationship between senior members in administration and lecturers in the tertiary education sector is different from others in the Public Service generally.

It is in view of this relationship that, senior administrators and their counterpart lecturers at analogous levels have been receiving similar levels of remuneration except for certain allowances.

For FWSC now to recommend very low and varying market premiums to senior members in administration smacks of their lack of appreciation of the senior administrators work in tertiary education sector.

It will be very helpful if the FWSC will consult the National Council for Tertiary Education, the National Accreditation Board, the Conference of Rectors of Polytechnics and the Conference of Vice Chancellors, if it has not done so yet.

This will place it in a better position to make a fair offer on market premium for senior administrators.

You cannot give senior members in the classroom between 114 per cent market premium and propose to offer senior members in university administration 30 percent for the simple reason that the teachers are more important than the administrators.

All of us cannot go to the classroom and that does not mean our work is not important. Nevertheless if the proper thing is not done, the nation should expect a total crumbling of the tertiary education sub sector.

By inference, the FWSC is saying that the work of Registrars, Directors of Finance, Planning Officers, University Hospital Doctors, Legal Officers and many others is less important compared to those in the classroom.

To maintain industrial peace on our campuses for all of us, administrators and lecturers, to work together to deliver quality tertiary education for the next generation, the FWSC should really be fair. It must stop this “pick and choose” tactic, as it is counterproductive.

The parity in remuneration must be maintained because our predecessors who established such parity were not “naive” to have done that.

Moreover, the offered market premium, which has necessitated this piece, is said to be graduated from the topmost to the lowest ranked senior administrator which, is a non starter. Who does the FWSC want to fool? This variation in market premium will create a very wide and unfair gap in levels of remuneration among the senior administrators. It will only be fair if there is parity in the market premium across board.

It is refreshing that GAUA has withdrawn its services over the raw deal that FWSC wants to give its members. As senior polytechnic administrators, we strongly support GAUA’s fight for a fair deal.

We know the FWSC has wide powers. In fact, it has powers to make and unmake a group of workers happy or sad. But seriously, if the FWSC is really being fair to all public sector workers, as it seeks to portray to the whole world, then it has to revisit the unfair and insulting offer made to GAUA.

Senior administrators are not asking to be paid gargantuan salaries. All we are asking for is our fair share of the national cake.

We also entreat the FWSC to invite the leadership of senior polytechnic administrators for negotiations without further delay. This is because we all live in the same economy where several economic indicators are changing to our disadvantage. We therefore must have a fair share and now. Senior administrators cannot wait any longer for the SSSS.

ROBERT KYEI-GYAU & EBENEZER KOFI BOAKYE, KUMASI POLYTECHNIC

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