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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

It’s not our fault but we have to fight for ourselves too

Prof. Charles Marfo is UTAG PresidentProf. Charles Marfo is UTAG President

• UTAG says it sympathizes with students negatively affected by their strike

• The NLC has secured an interlocutory injunction against the teachers but they say they will not budge

• Many school activities have so far been affected by the strike

As students push for their teachers to return to the classrooms, the President of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Professor Charles Marfo, has said that while they sympathize with them, their hands are tied.

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He explained that as worried as they also are about the welfare of the students, they equally need to fight for their own wellbeing, stressing that this is the only viable approach in the fight, citinewsroom.com has reported.

At the start of this month (August 2021), the members of UTAG, particularly those from the University of Ghana and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, announced a suspension of examinations owing to what they said was due to the uncertainty of when the matter would be resolved.

The professional bodies have been asking the government to restore the conditions of service they agreed on in 2012, stressing that those were better conditions compared to what they are left to deal with now.

Explaining their stance further, Prof. Charles Marfo said that this situation could have been avoided had the government been proactive in meeting their demands.

He added that on their part, they had served the government, through the National Labour Commission, adequate time on this subject, hoping that it would intervene before it was too late but that didn’t happen.

“We sympathize with the students. This is the effect we knew our strike will have, that is why we didn’t just jump into it. Three clear weeks to the strike, we notified the National Labour Commission about the lackadaisical attitude of government towards negotiations about our conditions of service.

“One would have thought that somebody would have taken us seriously but, as usual, we hardly even got a meeting with them… It is unfortunate, but we have to see to our needs too,” he explained.

In the meantime, the National Labour Commission (NLC) has secured an interlocutory injunction to compel the teachers to return to the classrooms but this is not a decision that the latter has considered yet, explains Prof. Marfo.

“When the NEC meets, and they think that what the government or the courts are demanding we have to go by them, we will… It is unfortunate that when we have not been heard, we will be dragged to court. It seems like people are using power unnecessarily because they have it, so they can use it to force us to go into the classroom… If you force us to the classroom, can you force us to teach?” he said.

So far, both academic and some non-academic work at the various tertiary institutions have been affected negatively, the report explained.

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