POTAG?embarks on indefinite strike

The Accra Polytechnic Branch of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) yesterday embarked on an indefinite strike to drum home its demand for the government to pay polytechnic teachers their book and research allowances.

Their action, according to Mr Jones Ntiamoah, the Vice-President of the Accra Poly POTAG branch, follows the declaration of a national strike by the national executive of the association.

He told the Daily Graphic that the branch had information from the national leadership that the congress had declared a strike and that it was binding on all members across the country.   Emergency meeting 

The strike, he said, began on Thursday but they had the information late on that day, saying in view of that they called an emergency meeting yesterday and broke the news to their members, giving them the reasons it had become necessary to embark on the industrial action.

The book allowance currently stands at $1,500 per year per lecturer, while the research component stands at GH¢400.

The government, he said, continued to be adamant on the payment of their book and research allowances which constituted a breach of their conditions of service.

“The book and research allowance is an intrinsic part of our conditions of service and we cannot understand why the government is refusing to fulfil that part of the conditions,” Mr Ntiamoah stressed.

  National research fund
He recounted that the allowance should have been paid last academic year but the government did not and rather maintained that it was setting up a national research fund and that the allowance would be paid into the fund for the polytechnic teachers to access.

But Mr Ntiamoah said POTAG held a different view that the fund was of a national character from which any academician or anyone with a compelling research proposal could draw but that what they were demanding was simply a full fulfilment of their conditions of service.

  Field research requirement 
Without the allowance, Mr Ntiamoah said it would be difficult for them to fulfil their mandate as academicians, explaining that before being promoted, they were expected to publish a number of publications and that demanded field research for which the allowance was required.

“Without the allowance, we will be standing still and will not be promoted. It is a negotiated allowance and for that matter it cannot be withdrawn but only reviewed and the review must be upwards and nothing else,” he fumed.

“Government should pay our allowance, just as it is paying all other allowances. But until that is done, there will be no teaching, no research, no supervision, no work, no invigilation and no marking of scripts,” he maintained.

When the Daily Graphic visited the Accra Polytechnic campus, students were writing their mid-semester examinations. Despite the announcement of the strike, some teachers were seen invigilating, while others had grouped around, having their own discussions.

One of the lecturers who did not mention his name said: “If a better Ghana cannot pay us our book and research allowance, then we want our normal Ghana. We had our normal Ghana but you promised us a better Ghana and so if you cannot deliver, then give us back our normal Ghana.”

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