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General News of Monday, 2 October 2006

Source: GNA

Govt appeals to striking teachers

... Govt can't negotiate with a gun to its head
Accra, Oct. 2, GNA - The Government on Monday called on the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) to resume work immediately.

"Using the weapon of strike action to force Government to accede to workers' demand is unhealthy in negotiations, as Government cannot effectively negotiate with a gun to its head - it is not democratic," Papa Owusu-Ankomah Minister of Education, Science and Sports, told newsmen in Accra.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah was addressing the press after receiving the prize vehicle for this year's best teacher award scheme, a Chinese made Cherry QQ saloon car, worth 8,250 dollars (76.856 million cedis) donated by Sneda Motors Ghana Limited and 50 million cedis cheque presented by SEDCO Longman limited.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah said the perception that the ruling Government was insensitive to the plight and condition of teachers was erroneous as the striking teachers only submitted a proposal to the Ministry last Friday.

"We cannot negotiate without anything on the table; now that we have something on the table we would consider it," he said. He stressed "the demand presented by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) was colossal covering about 90 per cent of the Government's fiscal budget".

He, therefore, appealed to all striking teachers to be patient and to go back to the classroom while negotiations continued. "We cannot truncate the due process under the current Ghana Labour Law...all workers must adhere to due process of law." Papa Owusu-Ankomah commended the two companies, Sneda Motors and SEDCO Longman, for supporting Government's effort in promoting and motivating teachers.

Mr David Ansah, Managing Director of Sneda Motors, said the Company was motivated by the role of teachers in national transformation and education of future leaders.

He also appealed to the striking teachers to resume work on humanitarian grounds as the plight of the youth was at stake. On the operations of the Company, Mr Ansah said demand for Chinese automobile in the West African Sub-Region was very encouraging as "we offer customized vehicles for the difficult terrain, humid environment at economic rates to meet the financial status of most people."

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the role of vehicle companies in curtailing rampant road accidents and loss of life, Mr Ansah said it was paradoxical that the improvement of roads had contributed to rampant road accidents and loss of lives.

He, therefore, called on all the public to help in whatever way necessary to curb this menace.

Mr Ansah asked road users to be cautious and the Ministry of Transportation to install safety traffic devices to reduce the rate of accidents.

Mr Frank Segbawa, Managing Director of SEDCO Longman, pledged the Company's continuous support for the Best Teacher Award Scheme.