UTAG vows to remain on strike over book allowance

Despite being paid their market premium arrears, UTAG president is insisting that unless their outstanding book allowance is paid, they are still on strike.

University teachers across Ghana began a nationwide industrial action Monday, August 1, 2013 to protest unpaid market premium and book research allowance.

In response to the strike, the Deputy Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa assured university teachers that their outstanding premiums will be settled by Friday. He also expressed government’s expectation that the strike would end.

But as at close of day Thursday, the president of UTAG Dr. Anthony Simons confirmed that they have been paid their allowances totaling GHC 29m. He however dashed government’s hope of a quick return to the classrooms, saying that until their book and research allowance are paid, they will remain on strike.

The deputy minister accused the UTAG president of shifting the goal post. He recalled that earlier on Thursday morning, UTAG had promised to call off the strike “if the money hits the accounts.” He also explained that a 15 April communiqué signed by government and UTAG to signal a road map for resolving their grievances did not mention any book allowance.

But the UTAG president clarified that although the road map did not mention book allowance, he raised the issue during the signing and was promised that it will be resolved. He says UTAG has also followed up with a letter dated 20th June 2013 to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) reminding the commission of this particular grievance.

He complained that his association feels ridiculed because since 2010 this issue remained unresolved. He has nonetheless held the fort asking his members to be patient only for government to continue dragging its feet.

Asked how much was involved in the book and research allowance, Dr. Simons replied that he did not know. This got the deputy minister of education to respond that government also does not know the figure because nothing has been put to government for payment.

He explained that UTAG and FWSC would have to conclude discussion before any amount outstanding can be known and paid.

Nonetheless, Dr. Simons pledged that until leadership decides otherwise, it is ‘aluta continua’.

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