General News of Monday, 18 September 2017
The president of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) is under fire for declaring a strike in protest over a court ruling against the University of Education Winneba.
Angry university lecturers, who have scorned and defied the order for a strike have now turned the gun on their president Dr Harry Agbenu and the National Executives and are demanding an apology for declaring an illegal strike.
Former UTAG President and Lecturer at the Cape Coast University, Dr Emmanuel Abole told Joy News’ Emefa Apawu the national UTAG executives have turned university lecturers into a “laughing stock” and they must apologise for same.
He said the National Executives did not follow the procedures before declaring the national strike.
The strike called by UTAG was to protest what it says is an attack on academic freedom by a court.
A Winneba High Court had early this year, instructed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education Winneba, Prof Mawutor Avorkeh, to step aside until a case brought against him and the University Council had been determined.
The ruling did not go down well with the Harry Agbenu led UTAG, who then declared a strike, an action which appears to have backfired.
Checks by Joy News reporters across the various campuses show that teaching and learning are going on smoothly without hitches.
Former UTAG president Dr Emmanuel Abole said the order for the strike was defied because it lacked consultation, and legitimacy.
According to him, before the National Executives will declare a strike on any matter, they would first have to consult the various campuses who will then discuss the issue thoroughly, vote on it and communicate their position to the National Executives.
According to him, in discussing the matter, they must be satisfied that the issue on board will not make the lecturers a subject of public ridicule and that by proceeding on a strike action they will be respecting the laws of the land.
He said if a decision is taken at the campus level, that decision will be communicated to the national executives after which a unanimous or majority decision will be taken before a strike is declared.
Dr Abole said nothing of that sort was done.
“Per the process in declaring a strike, due process was not followed,” he said, adding, “We are demanding an apology because he failed to respect us.”
The lawyer who is championing the case against the UEW, the case which triggered this whole controversy has condemned the action by the UTAG national executives.
Afenyo Markin says while he respects the rights of every Ghanaian to embark on a strike, that action cannot be hinged on a legitimate ruling by a court.
He is convinced what the University lecturers are doing at the national smacks of contempt and reminded them of the infamous Montie 3 scandal in which three loyalists of the then governing National Democratic Congress were jailed for criminal contempt after they threatened to kill judges and rape the Chief Justice.
Alexander Afenyo-Markin said an uneducated person can be excused for not disrespecting a court order but not a university lecturer.
He added the intelligentsia must not be seen to be usurping the powers and authority of the court and described the action by the UTAG national Executives as “disturbing.”
They should know better with the greatest of respects,” he added.
Quoting the president, Afenyo Markin said “court decisions are not always pleasant but they are the surest ways to resolving grievances.”