The teachers on demonstration in Kumasi yesterday
VEHICULAR and pedestrian movements in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital, were impeded yesterday morning when angry teachers hit the streets to demonstrate against government’s refusal to address their concerns.
Hundreds of aggrieved members of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT), wearing red bands, marched through the principal streets of the city, amid the singing of war songs.
The aggrieved teachers decided to hit the streets in their numbers over pressing issues such as the poor handling of the second-tier pension scheme of Ghana Education Service (GES) workers.
The action of the teachers followed a nationwide general strike declared on Monday by the leaderships of the two groups.
Among the issues in contention were the Ghana Education Service’s (GES) second-tier occupational pension scheme, incremental credits, payment of three-month salary arrears and transfer grants.
The government announced a new occupational-based pension scheme for teachers and other workers under the new Pension Law in the country, which was inaugurated in 2010 by the then President Mills.
The new pension scheme put in place the roadmap for the scheme rules, statement of investment policy, setting up the board of trustees, fund administration, fund managers and fund custodians and yet the scheme had not been operationalised, according to the striking teachers.
Members of the two teachers’ unions believed government had not shown sufficient commitment as regards resolving the issues affecting them, and therefore appealed to President Mahama to intervene for a speedy release of funds to the GES trustees for management toward their pensions.
Hundreds of the protesting teachers, as early as 7:00am, converged on the Children’s Park and marched through the principal streets of Kumasi, holding placards that sought to question government’s sincerity.
‘Your Excellency, pensions are of great interest to workers the world over. It is our belief that referring the matter to the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) for consideration does not demonstrate sufficient commitment on the part of the employer,’ the teachers’ unions stated in a joint petition to the President.
Stanislaus Nabome and Raymond Boakye Darkwa, general secretaries of NAGRAT and CCT respectively, signed the petition which was received by Kofi Dwumor Asubonteng, Chief Director of the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council.
The teachers added that it was worrying that no timelines were given for consideration by NTC, asserting that they were mindful of some of their colleagues who would be retiring next year, and were expected to benefit from the new pension scheme.
On the incremental credit, the angry teachers said the 2011 and 2012 ones due for some of the teachers were still outstanding.
According to them, at a meeting on May 15, 2014, an agreement was reached for the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to liaise with the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to let the Finance Ministry know the total cost of the 2011 and 2012 incremental credit.
‘We believe the matter was trivialised. There is no indication of a willingness to pay these arrears, and again, no timelines are stated,’ the petition pointed out.
On the issue of transfer grant, the two teachers’ unions stated that the transfer grant for deserving beneficiaries had been outstanding since 2010, and added that though District Directors of Education were mandated to collect data on transfer of grants, they had not been paid, questioning when this would be done.
The teachers noted that they had observed that the employer appeared not to be serious in resolving the issue relating to the payment of ‘not more than three months salary arrears’ and wanted President Mahama to direct the GES and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to sit up.
National President of NAGRAT Christian Addai Poku said until government listened to the pressing issues confronting NAGRAT and CCT, they would continue mounting pressure on it.
Ernest Opoku, National President of CCT, stated that as lawful citizens of the land, they decided to hit the streets in large numbers to make known their grievances in a peaceful manner.
From Ernest Kofi Adu &I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi
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