Regional News of Wednesday, 14 May 2014
The Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) has declared its intention to embark on a nationwide strike from Friday, May 16, 2014 over the failure by the government to pay arrears of teachers.
The group says its members will also join the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) to embark on a joint street demonstration in Accra.
Similarly, another demonstration will be organised in Kumasi the same day.
The intended demonstration by the CCT follows a similar call by NAGRAT for a demonstration against the government due to its failure to meet their requests.
Stating the reasons for their intended strike action, Mr. Ernest Opoku, President of the CCT, who addressed a press conference held in Accra yesterday, said the government had failed to pay arrears of some teachers and kicked against the decision of the government to only pay three months of salary arrears owed teachers.
Describing the policy as a ‘maladroit policy ,' Mr. Opoku said the decision of the government not to pay the full arrears owed teachers amounted to a violation of the rights of teachers.
“If you think paying arrears of many months comes with some challenges, let workers, especially teachers go through quick documentation so that their salaries will be paid early to avoid this stand-off. We have constitutionally mandatory ways to force government to pay our money. Ghana should stay put even as we prove to the nation that the work of the teacher is important in nation building," he said.
In his address, Mr. Opoku raised concerns about government’s refusal to pay the incremental credit arrears of teachers spanning 2011 and 2012.
According to Mr. Opoku, officials of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Ministry of Finance on November, 20, 2013 impressed on the teacher labour unions to forfeit those arrears saying that, “we vehemently opposed this and even promised them we have worked for this money and attempts to deny us these arrears will be fiercely resisted”.
Addressing the group’s concern on the occupational pension scheme for Ghana Education Service (GES) staff, Mr. Opoku said the government had failed to transfer the deducted tier two contributions of teachers into their accounts of their private trustees as required by law.
Mr. Opoku also made the claim that the whereabouts of the deducted tier two pension contributions were unknown and added that the inaction by the government would affect teachers due for retirement next year.
“The unions have put in place the board of trustees who are poised to invest the contributions into meaningful ventures to help alleviate the financial problems of retired teachers," he said.
He said enough consultations and discussions had been held with the government, but the government had failed to pay the contributions.
“Let us put on record that with the introduction of the new pension’s Act, SSNIT will no longer pay lump sums to workers who will retire next year 2015. Therefore, teachers who are due for retirement next year will have to be paid through the second tier occupational pension scheme," Mr. Opoku said.
Although the CCT is not against the GES staff rationalisation policy which ensures the transfer of teachers, the group has asked government to pay the allowances associated with such transfers.
According to the group, the government had not paid transfer grants for more than two years “but teachers are on daily basis being transferred under the guise of teacher rationalisation”.
Members of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers will lay down their tools on Friday May, 16, 2014.
Their reasons for the strike action include the non-payment of salary arrears and other financial entitlements.