General News of Wednesday, 11 September 2019
The Ministry of Finance has authorised the Controller and Accountant-General to release GH¢49.99 million to pay outstanding transfer grants and other allowances to qualified staff of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The payment covers accumulated arrears from 2017 to 2019.
An inter-ministerial memo signed by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Ms Abena Osei-Asare, and copied to officials, including the ministers of Finance and Education, as well as their deputies and chief directors, as well as the Director-General of the GES, a copy of which the Daily Graphic has sighted, gave the breakdown of the payments as GH¢38.95 million, while GH¢11.05 million would be paid as other allowances.
On an annual basis, the memo stated, GH¢18.33 million was in respect of for 2017, with 2018 being GH¢16.23 million, while 2019 had GH¢15.44 million accumulated.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Mr David Ofori Acheampong, said all the affected teachers would be paid at the end of September.
Responding to a question on threats by six regional chairmen of the association to go on strike if the arrears were not cleared, he said the threat was uncalled for, since all the issues they raised were being addressed.
Regional chairmen & concerns
The six regional chairmen are Mr Attan Longiya, Northern; Mr Kuule Ivon, Upper West; Mr Korah Maurice, Upper East, and Mr David Kattah, Volta.
The rest are Rev. Dr Isaac Owusu, Central, and Mr Ransford N.K. Lolih, Greater Accra.
Among others, the chairmen, who jointly signed a press release, said they “have been inundated with incessant calls and agitation from our members across the regions seeking to embark on an industrial action due to the inability of our employers, the Ghana Education Service (GES), to resolve the many challenges confronting our members”.
They enumerated the challenges to include the non-renewal of the collective bargaining agreement, the GES-SIC Life Insurance policy deductions, non-payment and difficulty in placing staff on additional responsibility allowances and challenges confronting the implementation of the standard-based curriculum.
Other challenges are the non-payment of salary arrears, non-payment of transfer grants and transport and traveling allowances, delay in advertisement interview and issuance of promotion letters, delay in salary adjustment, the extension in contact hours without commensurate remuneration and the re-instatement of the 110 basic school headteachers in the Ga West District in the Greater Accra Region.
“Looking at the fact that many of the issues are not new and have been with the employer for a very long time without any solution, we, as regional chairmen and representatives, are unable to restrain our members from embarking on their intended industrial action, effective Tuesday, September 10, 2019, until all the issues are effectively resolved,” the release said.
But in reaction, Mr Acheampong, who was assisted by the National President of GNAT, Ms Philippa Larsen, said those regional chairmen had no basis to ask their members to embark on such action.
He said that was particularly so when GNAT was already in discussions with the GES on almost all the issues raised, saying: “As I speak to you now, yesterday the list was completed and submitted to the Ministry of Finance.”
He asked that if the executives had taken such steps, even to the extent that the Ministry of Finance would be making the list available, “does it call for an action of that nature?”
He said all the unions in the educational sector were aware that a lot of effort was being made by the executives to resolve all the issues raised by the regional chairmen “and no union can say that it is not aware of this. There is nothing that we have done in isolation”.
Mr Acheampong said the challenge was that some of the issues raised had already been dealt with, while discussions and negotiations were ongoing on the others, “and the law is clear that when there are ongoing discussions and there is no deadlock, you have no right to declare a strike”.
He said GNAT had structures on resolving issues, saying that under the structures, the regional executives should have met to discuss the issues, given their consent and representatives from the concerned regions should have submitted their concerns to the national executives.
“As far as we are concerned, no such processes have been carried through,” he added.
Ms Larsen recalled the effort put in by the national executives since the reintroduction of the GES-SIC Life policy, adding that two weeks ago, the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, had communicated to GNAT that the policy had been suspended again.
She reminded teachers that once the policy had been suspended and the premium deducted refunded to the affected teachers, “you have no issue with the GES and the SIC Life now”.