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Opinions of Thursday, 21 June 2018

Columnist: Paa Kwesi Arko Cee

The multi- teacher associations - Necessary or not?

I wish sincerely to register my concerns on the substantive issue as to whether or not it is necessary for Ghanaian teachers to belong to different teacher union groups.

My mind is as follows:

Presently the Ghanaian teacher associations are NAGRAT, GNAT, ATAG and CCT.

These are the voice of Ghanaian teachers across the country. Teachers need to have decent salaries and conditions of service to be able to deliver their professional services.

All four unions hold a promise of achieving these objectives for teachers by bargaining with government and they are run by payment of dues by members, with the expectation that the money be spent to benefit the memberships.

However, over the years, when issues bothering Ghanaian teachers comes out these plural groups differ in opinions on what is good or bad for the Ghanaian teacher.

What is presently is the newly introduced Teachers’ Licensing Exams. The unions have opinionated and recapitulated their stances, but they stand on uncommon grounds.

For example, while NAGRAT is against the licensing of teachers, the latest teacher union, ATAG lauds the move.

What is more? It is not uncommon for the members of one teacher union to go on strike while other teachers are reporting to work because their association is not part of the strike action. This attitude has failed to make teachers’ strike actions threatening and dangerous to any government and unable for teachers to negotiate and win with government.

It is nothing more than appalling to see that the bodies that must act as the voice for teachers speak with a confused babel of voices. The question is how can G.E.S receive with respect and trust the word of teachers in Ghana if their unions disagree on what is good for teachers. The outcome is that government will always dictate what it thinks is good for teachers since we do not agree on what is what.

A reminder is in order to the teacher union that dues are paid by Ghanaian teachers to them not merely because we are members of the association. We pay because we stand to benefit from a representative work which will bring us decent salaries and conditions of service to be able to deliver professionally. Therefore there is a need for a more vibrant teacher union to bargain for attractive conditions of service for the sector employees.

I am of the view that we need to stay focused on this substantive issue of whether or not we need all those associations which are taking dues to push for one goal. The plurality of teacher unions is an impediment. They are unable to fight for the interest of members because of a lack of consensus among them and I propose that we bring all teachers in Ghana under a singular umbrella teacher union that will serve as the only labor union for all in the sector to identify common and peculiar problems and find solutions to them. I rest my case.