General News of Sunday, 3 September 2017
Source: Prosper Agbenyega
The University of Education, Winneba branch of the concerned members of the University Teachers Association Ghana (UTAG) have debunked reports that they are on strike.
According to UTAG-Winneba, it emerged that during the declaration of the so-called strike by UTAG UEW executives, they impressed upon members to withdraw their participation from all formal University activities but activities and conducts of members on the ground in Winneba and Ajumako campuses clearly show that almost all members, by their acts, “have dissociated themselves from the so-called strike.”
In a statement issued by the branch executives, the group stated emphatically that an earlier announced strike was without their consent and they have decided not to be part of it.
Below is a copy of the full statement:
WE ARE NOT ON STRIKE: CONCERNED UTAG OF UEW
About a fortnight ago, UTAG UEW executives, purporting to act on behalf of Winneba and Ajumako campuses (and of course without the support of Kumasi and Mampong Campuses), in a press statement, announced to the whole nation that UTAG UEW was on strike.
We the Concerned UTAG UEW reject the announcement and categorically state that UTAG UEW is not on strike. The so-called strike action was unilaterally declared by the executives without the consent of the members. First, as indicated earlier, UTAG UEW does not have the full support of its house to declare a strike. As could be seen clearly from the Press Statement issued by UTAG National President based on information submitted to him by UTAG UEW Executives, the said decision to proceed on strike, if such strike action is even ongoing and legitimate, emanates from only two campuses, Winneba and Ajumako. Members on Kumasi and Mampong Campuses had in an earlier press release dissociated themselves from the said strike and are conducting their academic activities in a very harmonious environment.
It is also interesting to note that even on the two campuses (Winneba and Ajumako) on whose behalf UTAG UEW is seeking to front for, the members are heavily divided over the legitimacy, rationale and logic in declaring a strike over a case that is pending in court. Furthermore, how come that UTAG UEW was not able to persuade its members on the other campuses to join the so-called strike action if indeed there was any legitimate justification for the strike? Why are the fronts of Winneba and Ajumako divided over this declaration if indeed such act is justified? What is even sad is that UTAG National President has also failed to harmonize the fronts and instead jumped into the fray and unilaterally proceeded to support the actions of UTAG UEW Executives. Any responsible, peace loving, and harmonious-academic-environment-focused national President knowing that two campuses have dissociated themselves from the strike action would have taken it upon himself to inquire, probe and perhaps help resolve the division before proceeding to declare its illogically rationalised support for the so-called strike. UTAG National President failed woefully in this regard. Kumasi and Mampong Campuses have called the bluff of UTAG National President through their dissociation. Just Imagine!
During the declaration of the so-called strike by UTAG UEW executives, they indicated that members should withdraw their participation from all formal University activities. However, activities and conducts of members on the ground in Winneba and Ajumako campuses clearly show that almost all members, by their acts, have dissociated themselves from the so-called strike.
Since the earlier declaration was made, several formal University activities have been held: at Winneba, three Congregation ceremonies, Matriculation, and several Departmental and Faculty Board meetings, Governing Council meetings have been held. Other meetings that have recently been conducted include those of Finance Committee, Appointments and Promotions Board, Timetable Committee, Academic Planning, UEW Affiliates Committee, Entity Tender Committee, Status Review Committee and Student-Staff Consultative Committee meetings. These are all formal meetings from which UTAG UEW executives asked members to withdraw their participation!
It is important to note that such meetings include members who purport to be on strike. This is clearly an indication that the so-called strike does not have the support of UTAG members on the two campuses as well. At Winneba, as we write, members are going about their normal academic duties and Deans, Heads of Department, Examination Officers, Coordinators among others, have continued to function since the declaration of the so-called strike and have duly drawn their salaries, responsibility allowances and sitting allowances for the months of July and August.
We wish to state for the records that this is the first time UTAG UEW has declared a strike that has left the house heavily and seriously divided. If UTAG UEW or UTAG National President were alive to their responsibilities of ensuring that members work in a harmonious academic environment, they would have put the declaration of the strike on-hold until appropriate alternative resolution mechanism or front-harmonizing processes initiated to ensure unity and oneness of purpose in all UTAG conducts and declarations.
In its hasty attempt to win public support for the declaration of the so-called strike, UTAG UEW, backed by UTAG National President, is blazing all cylinders and does not even care who crosses its path, leaving many to wonder their agenda. Our contention is that a close reading of the Press Release by UTAG UEW and UTAG National President clearly reveals both overt and subtle running down of the very institutions and individuals who are supposed to facilitate the resolution of the UEW impasse: The Winneba High Court, The Effutu MP, the Governing Council, The Chairman of the Governing Council, The Acting Vice-Chancellor, and the Ministry of Education have all come under the fire of their canons. This is beyond intellectual comprehension!
The University has reopened and all campuses are back in session. The Registrar has, on our Website, welcomed fresh and continuing students to campus to start the 2017/2018 academic year. Imagine the weirdness of a University having four campuses with two conducting their activities without any hitch and the other two campuses attempting to hold their students in abeyance and anxiety over a so-called strike that has no logical basis and lacks support among the generality of its membership!
We the Concerned Lecturers wish to say to our students, both fresh and continuing: WELCOME TO UEW. We, your lecturers, are ready and willing to start teaching. To the fresh students, we, with other staff, are also willing and ready, first through your Orientation programme, to assist you to transition into this new phase of your life. WE ARE NOT ON STRIKE!
When UTAG sought to initially declare the strike even when the matter was (and has been) pending before the court, they founded their arguments on several points to persuade members to support their cause. These included: the absence of a Governing Council, the danger of non-ratification of appointments, promotions, and certificates and diplomas that were processed within the period in contention. Some members initially supported the cause because the arguments seemed plausible even though the matter was still pending before the court.
It is imperative to note that all the above issues have been resolved. There is a new UEW Governing Council which has, among other things, ratified all appointments, promotions, certificates and diplomas processed within the period in contention. These all important ratifications were publicly announced by the Chairman of the Governing Council, Professor E. N. Abakah, at the University’s last Congregation ceremonies of which His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, the President, was present as the Special Guest of Honour.
All other issues that are outstanding, and still in contention by the UTAG Executives and National President are purely matters that lie within the ambit of the court upon which no strike action can abate or stall. The question is: Why are UTAG UEW Executives and UTAG National President so averse to the matter travelling the full court course? Is the court not the right place to assert and affirm our rights, if indeed they are being intruded or trampled upon as being bandied around by them? What then are UTAG UEW Executive and National President seeking as the resolution of the strike? Is it when the court rules in their favour and or when the government forcibly and illegally intervenes to truncate the court processes?
What then is the issue? What else do these few self-seeking people desire? Why are they not concerned about the larger interest of the University?
We the Concerned Lecturers wish to clearly state that we shall always support any declaration of strike by UTAG that is founded on soundness of purpose and has full support of its membership from all the four campuses. We have always done so in the past and we shall continue to support any such good cause in the future. However, the current declaration does not meet any of the yardsticks of legitimacy, relevance, logicality, and soundness of purpose.
We, therefore, call on UTAG members and, especially, our students, to disregard the announcement of a strike, and continue with the conduct of their academic activities.
Finally, we want to state that the University of Education, Winneba is a community where many individuals have chosen to work to derive genuine livelihood and/ or have their education. Whenever there are genuine infringements or intrusions into our rights to academic freedom and peacefulness of mind to work, we shall resist all such with all legitimate means at our disposal. There is no such infringement and intrusion now, from whichever angle one genuinely perceives and interprets it. Hence we will not allow some individuals to use propaganda and lies to run this great institution down. Not now and not ever!!! Thank you.
Dr Isaac Brako