UTAG Strike Cripples Universities

Prof Naana Opoku Agyemang, Minister of Education
The ongoing strike by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has delayed the re-opening of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KUNST) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC).

The two universities have indefinitely suspended the re-opening of the universities for the 2014/2015 academic year.

KUNST in a statement said the date for the re-opening of the university for the 2014/2015 academic year has been suspended indefinitely.

‘The suspension is to enable the university to prepare adequately for re-opening in view of the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG) industrial action and the Ebola scare in the West African sub- region.

‘Students are advised to hold themselves in readiness for the new dates which may come at a short notice’, the statement said.

The University of Cape Coast (UCC) in a similar statement signed by the Registrar, Kofi Nyan, said circumstances beyond the control of authorities of the university compelled them to suspend the re-opening.

However, another notice issued and signed by the president of the Students Representative Council (SRC), UCC, David Boakye, attributed the decision to the industrial strike of UTAG.

It’s still not clear if other public universities across the country will follow suit, even though all universities are expected to resume for the new academic session this month.

According to the notice, UTAG’s president, Dr. Samuel Ofori-Bekoe, confirmed to the authorities of the university that UTAG would not end the strike, adding that its National Executive Committee resolved at a meeting on Wednesday, August 6 to take legal action.

‘The decision has been taken to relieve students from coming to spend time and money without lectures,’ the notice stated.

UTAG declared an indefinite strike in July this year to protest against government’s decision to scrap book and research allowances to lecturers in tertiary institutions.

In place of this, the government intends to establish a National Research Fund for lecturers to access for their research projects.

The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) has also been on strike since May 15 over book and research allowances, which are in arrears.

The strike has led to the closure of all 10 polytechnics in the country, with the Ministry of Education threatening to block the salaries of POTAG members.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has threatened to drag UTAG before the National Labour Commission (NLC) for failing to follow the laid down procedure before embarking on the strike.

But UTAG insisted that they would only call off the strike when their monies are paid, insisting that the book and research allowances must not be scrapped.

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By Cephas Larbi

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