The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) has emphatically stated that it is not interested in any arbitration over its demand for book and research allowances.
Even though the National Labour Commission has directed the striking teachers to go back to classroom whilst it settles it grievances through arbitration, POTAG has ignored the directive.
POTAG President James Dugrah told Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh, the demand for arbitration is ‘strange’ to the Association. ‘It has never happened before,’ he asserted.
‘There is no room for arbitration,’ he stated uncompromisingly, explaining that what they are demanding is an arrears due them and cannot be negotiated.
The only thing that would soften their stance is for the government, represented by the Ministry of Education, to assure them that the book and research allowances would be paid.
However, it appears the strike would travel its long haul as government puts up unyielding stance. Government has established a Research Fund for schools, and therefore not prepared to add the book and research allowances, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Education Ministry, Paul Krampah explained.
The strain between the two parties seems to have worsened by the Ministry and National Labour Commission’s apparent disregard for the Association. The Ministry has also accused POTAG of failing to cooperate in finding lasting solutions to the impasse.
But it would be ‘misleading’ to say POTAG is not cooperating, James Dugrah rejected the Ministry’s claim.
He said the Association attended all the two meetings in which they were invited, but to add salt to their injury, in one of the meetings their presence was not even acknowledged, he claimed.
DENIGRATED AND DISCRIMINATED
Mr. James Dugrah accused the government of downplaying their concerns.
He said even though the University Teachers Association is also fighting government over the same issue, it is being given a preferential treatment.
POTAG therefore feels ‘denigrated’ and ‘discriminated’ without any premium being placed on their concerns, he observed. ‘How do you expect us to cooperate when we are being relegated to the background,’ he questioned government.
But Mr. Paul Krampah insisted on Joy News that the ‘Ministry is against what is happening’.
He said the Ministry is doing all it could to ensure sanity in the education sector.
Meanwhile, Joy News’ checks at various Polytechnics across the country revealed that most of the students have packed home. Fee paying students and lecturers contracted by the various Polytechnics themselves are however attending lectures.
It is feared that all the Polytechnics would be closed down by next week as the strike enters its third week. The law establishing and regulating the polytechnics, enjoins authorities to shut down when students are idle for over 21-days. Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Isaac Essel | [email protected]
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