The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has given the government up to April 15, 2014 to begin the process of paying the allowances, otherwise, “UTAG will be compelled to withdraw its services”.
Such an industrial action coming at a critical time on the academic calendar may seriously affect the preparation for and conduct of the second semester examinations in public universities.
The President of UTAG, Dr Samuel Ofori Bekoe, told journalists at a news conference in Accra yesterday that the leadership of UTAG had managed to contain the frustration and anger of its members over the matter in an effort not to disrupt the academic calendar.
But he noted: “Presently, there is evidence of agitation on the part of UTAG members on the various campuses which the leadership of UTAG may not be able to contain should it develop into a full-blown industrial action”.
Dr Bekoe accused the Ministry of Education and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) of not giving the issue the serious attention it deserved.
“UTAG has noted with concern the casual manner in which the Minister of Education met with its leadership on this issue on February 27, 2014, which, to us, is a vivid portrayal of the lack of seriousness and importance the ministry attaches to the resolution of the problem.
“In addition, our official request to the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to initiate the process for the payment of this academic year’s book and research allowances by March 31, 2014 appears to have been ignored,” he submitted.
National Research Fund
In the 2014 budget delivered to Parliament last November, the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, indicated the government’s intention to abolish the book and research allowances for lecturers in public tertiary institutions.
In their stead, the minister announced the establishment of a National Research Fund (NRF) with the view to putting huge funds at the disposal of lecturers to undertake more comprehensive research works.
However, UTAG insists on the retention of the book and research allowances, and while it supports the establishment of the NRF, it is not enthused by the government’s lack of consultation with UTAG on the matter.