NAGRAT?to embark on demonstrations to back demands

Members of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) are to embark on demonstrations on May 15 and May 27, 2014 in Accra and Kumasi over what the association describes as the government’s persistent failure to address their concerns for years.

The demonstrations, dubbed, “Redeem the promise”, followed the government’s  poor handling of the Second Tier Pension of workers of the Ghana Education Service (GES).

The teachers also said their action stemmed from the government’s refusal to pay incremental credit arrears, its decision to implement the three months arrears policy and refusal to pay transfer grants to teachers posted to remote areas. 

“We have tried to adopt dialogue as a means to resolve these concerns but we have not witnessed a commitment on the part of the employer to amicable resolution,” the association said.

At a press briefing in Accra Wedneday, the President of NAGRAT, Mr Christian Addai-Poku, stated, “We have also decided to lay down our tools by May 16 this year if the government fails to properly address our concerns.”

“NAGRAT, however, wishes to assure all stakeholders of our desire and readiness to see a peaceful resolution of these concerns so as to promote quality education delivery in Ghana.” Government’s feet  dragging attitude

Mr Addai-Poku said since the enactment of the new Pension Law of 2008 (Act 776) and the subsequent inauguration of the new pension scheme in 2010, the association, together with other unions within the GES, had worked hard to see to the full operation of the second tier of the pension scheme.

He said NAGRAT and other unions engaged a consultant at their own cost and worked with the GES management to set up and register the scheme under the law – setting up a board of trustees, and getting fund managers, custodians and administrators.

“The scheme has been registered by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to commence operation but what is left is for the government to advise the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to direct all deductions from the GES workers into the scheme’s account for proper management,” he said.

Surprisingly, he said, the government had refused to remit the accounts of the scheme money deducted from teachers’ salaries over the past four years and even those currently being deducted.

“This would have paved the way for the selected professionals to properly invest the funds for good returns,” he said, pointing out that the government had adopted a “feet-dragging attitude to the chagrin of teachers”. Future of retiring teachers at stake

“The implication of this government’s attitude is that next year, our colleagues who will be retiring under the new scheme stand to lose a lot, as their contributions have not been professionally handled and invested in appropriate portfolios,” Mr Addai-Poku stated.

He indicated that the NPRA, which is currently handling the funds, “is not a fund manager”, saying that “its core function is to regulate pension schemes”.

“They, therefore, have no business arrogating to themselves the work of pension fund managers and be investing workers’ money in cheap investment portfolios,” he added. Improve data processing mechanisms 

With regard to the three months’ arrears payment policy, Mr Addai-Poku stated that in December 2013, the Ministry of Finance issued a directive that any arrears due teachers beyond three months would not be paid by the government.

“The implication of this directive is that  teachers who have been recruited and have had to wait more than a year before being paid will be paid only three months of arrears, instead of the 12 months they had worked for.

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