Teachers across the country have refused to back down on their decision to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike despite government’s plea.
According to the teachers, government’s posture does not address their concerns and would therefore go ahead with their intended strike in March if their demands were not met.
The teachers have cited non-payment of transfer grants, the 24 months’ incremental credit arrears and the policy of paying only three months of salary arrears irrespective of the total number of accumulated months, as some of their concerns.
The rest are non-payment of vehicle maintenance allowances to deserving teachers, outstanding transfer grants and travel and transport allowances.
Government on Monday met with the three teacher unions namely, Ghana National Association of Teacher (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT-GH) over a road-map towards the payment of salary arrears but ended inconclusively.
According to the unions, they would not accept any roadmap, explaining that the proposal from government does not address their concerns tabled before the negotiation team.
Christian Addai-Opoku, President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), who was addressing the media yesterday on behalf of the three teacher unions, said the educational authorities were engaging in delusion and self-denial of the issues at stake.
“Instead of sitting down to plan how they can effectively deal with the issue at hand, our educational authorities are engaging in delusion and self-denial of the hard truth. We are, however, not surprised because they have had the mettle to disregard ruling of the National Labour Commission,” Christian Addai-Opoku averred.
Outstanding Salary Arrears
Mr Addai-Opoku said the claim by Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Jacob Kor that government does not owe teachers and that all outstanding arrears for those who qualified had been paid by January 1, 2016 was untrue.
He explained that the Director-General referred a list of 27,000 teachers to the Fair Wages and Salary Commission for action on January 12, 2016.
“So how can the Director General still claim that these teachers have been paid on January 1, 2016? The fact of the matter is that GES has just submitted the documents of 27,000 teachers to the Audit Service after two years of inaction,” Addai-Opoku noted.
He posited that the Controller and Accountant General’s Department did not pay salaries on January 1, 2016, stating, “January salaries were paid on January 24, 2016 and those of December 2015 were paid on December 18, 2015. There was no supplementary pay run on January 1, 2016.”
On the issue of payment of outstanding car maintenance allowances and transfer grants, Mr Addai-Opoku said government had failed to pay teachers their allowances since 2012.
He said government owes an estimated amount of GH¢16 million over four years and out of this, only GH¢1 million could be released for the payment of the first three months of 2015.
“Even the three months that were paid, we received reports that some district directors failed to pay the money to teachers, claiming that government had not paid them their subventions so they used that money to run the districts.
“It is therefore strange how the Director General could confidently look teachers and indeed all Ghanaians in the face and tell us that GH¢16 million minus GH¢1,000,000 is equal to zero,” the NAGRAT President fumed.
Touching on government’s claim that some teachers had issued fake documents and certificates, he said, “We find the assertion a baseless criminalization and defamation of the hard-won reputation of a lot of the affected teachers.
“If these teachers are fraud as he seeks to imply, then why are they still at post? Why have they not been dealt with or arrested?”
Mr Addai-Opoku underscored that “let it be noted that majority of the teachers affected by this unpopular policy of ‘non-payment of arrears beyond three months’ have been placed on payroll, paid three months of their arrears, continue to receive pay every month and perform their duties as teachers. If they are fake as he claims, why continue to entrust the future of our children in their hands? Why are they not arrested?”
He said the association’s investigations revealed that a lot of the supporting documents to the teachers’ applications got detached due to poor handling by either officials at the GES headquarters or the Audit Service.
He re-emphasized that until all arrears were paid, their position remained unchanged and “we are resolute in our demands which must be met by the 29th of February, 2016.”
By Cephas Larbi