Four university unions have asked the government to cancel plans to change their working conditions.
If not, they’ll stop teaching and related activities on October 5, 2022.
University Teachers Association of Ghana(UTAG), Ghana Association of University Administrators, Tertiary Education Workers Union of Ghana, and Senior Staff Association of Universities of Ghana are the four unions (SSA-UoG).
Prof. Solomon Nunoo, president of UTAG, stated their working circumstances were unduly diversified on their blind side, with the employer applying the same rules selectively.
“The labor unions got a note of a letter from the Ministry of Finance dated August 5, 2022, and signed by Deputy Minister of Finance Abena Osei-Asare, he added.
He also cited a letter from the Ministry of Finance dated March 16, 2022, titled “Allowances Payable on the Payroll of Public Universities” and written to the Director General of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC).
Prof. Nunoo said UTAG had written two letters to the Minister of Finance and the Executive Secretary of the National Labour Commission (NLC) on April 11, 2022, and June 15, 2022, seeking funding “Clarification on unilateral changes to university teachers’ and all public university workers’ working conditions without formal negotiations.
“Unfortunately, UTAG didn’t receive a response from the Minister of Finance, and the NLC’s directive, which gave the Minister of Finance seven working days to respond, went unanswered.
“In UTAG’s previous letters, UTAG stated unequivocally that per the signed Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the employer and UTAG on June 16, 2021, the employer agreed to review fuel allowance bi-annually with approved rates and the first date review should have occurred in December 2021,” he explained.
Prof. Nunoo said contrary to the MoA, the Minister of Finance, per its letter dated March 16, 2022, again directed that fuel allowance and other allowances that depended on ex-pump price for fuel, which was previously pegged to several gallons, be converted and determined in absolute rates without recourse to any of the public university labor unions.
We reject this absolute rate since the proper procedure wasn’t followed, and the status quo should continue until negotiated. Again, the employer ignored the unions’ concerns,” he said. “After a long delay in respect of the bi-annual review, the Minister of Finance, in a letter dated August 5, 2022, approved the adjustment of the ex-pump price of fuel and, consequently, the unit cost pegged at GH10.99 per liter with effect from July 1, 2022, for all eligible staff.”
The UTAG President added, “We’ve learned that the implementation of this adjusted ex-pump rate will be inconsistent in the future, notably for Vehicle Maintenance and Off-Campus Allowances.”
“It will only apply to university duty bearers. This behavior is wrong and creates a class structure, like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Prof. Nunoo remarked.
Vehicle Maintenance and Off-Campus Allowances are paid at a base rate of GH4.99 per liter until June 2021, when it was increased to GH6.05 per liter. What’s changed for this blatant disregard for procedures? he asked.
According to him, reversing previous upward adjustments from GH10.99 to GH6.05 was not representative of economic conditions at the pump and was unimaginable for the government to do so.
UTAG and her sister unions, he said, would like the employer to tread carefully so as not to mar the already jeopardized tertiary education front. The labor unions would not countenance such flagrant disregard of agreed modalities of conditions of service.
Prof. Nunoo stated once the UTAG Strike action was suspended in March 2022, the National Executive Committee agreed to monitor and police the full implementation of all agreements with the government and to work with clear deadlines and roadmaps to guarantee all commitments and agreements were respected.
He stated it was distressing to see issues with the Online Teaching Support Allowance and non-payroll allowances.
“This circumstance has made university teachers worse off in our tight economic situation, and the employer is focused on derailing the minimal improvements achieved,” he stated.
Again, he added, unions had noted that the execution of the GTEC document on Harmonised Allowances had made university administrators and professionals worse off, which was against labor regulations and “needs urgent attention for a remedy.”
“Bra payments for this year have been delayed. This delay causes unneeded fear on campus. We’re in a new academic year, thus the employer’s payment delays are unacceptable.
The 2021/2022 BRA was scheduled to be paid at the end of August 2022 per the accord that led to the suspension of UTAG’s industrial action. They’re still unpaid. The constant follow-ups have only yielded evasive excuses, and typical of the reactionary and less proactive leadership style, all the relevant ministries and their heads, including Finance, National Security, Education, and Employment, and the National Labour Commission are waiting for us to explode before acting,” he lamented.