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General News of Friday, 29 February 2008

Source: The Chronicle

Electricity Tariff Up 100 Percent

... Not 35% As Announced
According to National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), it is an open secret that electricity tariffs have now been increased by 100%, even though the official figure should have been 35%, at the time the government had failed to increase the salary of the Ghanaian teacher.

The NAGRAT has called on government to put in place measures to cushion teachers against the untold economic hardships brought about by escalating utility tariffs.

The Regional Chairman of NAGRAT, Mr. Lordson Afedo, at a press briefing held in Tamale, said the difference between the salaries of health professionals, and professional teachers, gave wrong signals that some professionals were treated better than others in the country. According to Mr. Afedo, the constant undermining of the teaching profession by government, was evil and should be condemned by all right-thinking Ghanaians. “Sacrifices made by teachers, all over the years, seem to have gone unappreciated, largely because of the perception that the teacher’s reward is in heaven. This has become an anachronism, since it has no relevance to today’s changing needs of society. Even if it has any meaning at all, let us enjoy part of that reward here on earth, so that those who would not get to go to heaven would not have lost twice,” he said.

According to him teachers have been neglected to such an extent that nobody wants to remain a teacher till retirement. The NAGRAT Chairman stated that it would be prudent for the government to make living conditions better for graduate teachers, in order to forestall any future industrial strike or agitations. However, Mr. Afedo denied any intentions, whatsoever, by the association to embark on any strike actions against the government. He furthermore called for the immediate release of their October 2006, salaries which were frozen.

The press briefing was organized to press home their demands for an increase in wages and salaries to redeem the image of the profession. Mr. Afedo lamented that the take-home salaries of graduate teachers could not even take them home. NAGRAT bemoaned that even the community health nurses, popularly known as “Zoom Nurses,” were believed to be enjoying better remuneration, than the graduate teachers. The association also reacted to the recent statement by President Kufuor, in his last State of Nation Address, which suggested that teachers take home over ¢20 million each, without stating whether in a month or year.

NAGRAT stressed that the ¢20 million for a teacher, was the annual income, but doctors receive ¢30 million a month. NAGRAT, therefore, appealed to government to, as matter of urgency, open negotiations for salaries to amend its own failure to fulfill its desire of implementing a single spine structure for this year. The association observed that the outcome of such a negotiation would be used to cushion workers against the high cost of living, coupled with increase in utility tariffs. Meanwhile, about five outgoing Northern Regional executives of NAGRAT were rewarded for their selfless-dedication, and contributions to the growth of the association.

They include Mr. Mahama Andani - outgoing Regional Chairman, Mr. Munkayila King Zakari - outgoing Vice Chairman, Mr. C. Doozie - Regional Representative at National Council Meetings, Mr. J. J. Soka – Publicity Secretary and Mr. Mohammed Ayarna -Regional Deputy Secretary.

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