Teachers: We won’t return to the Classroom until All our concerns are resolved

The Central Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Teachers Association (GNAT), Dr Isaac Owusu, has revealed that, the on-going teachers’ strike will not be called off despite the release of forty-nine million Cedis by the Finance Ministry to settle grant arrears.

According to him, the money released to settle delayed transfer grants was part of other key demands listed by the teacher unions before embarking on the strike, hence the teachers are not returning to the classrooms unless the other demands are also addressed.

In an exclusive interview with ghananewsonline.com.gh, Dr Owusu asserted that the GHC 49 million reportedly released by authorities now, was in fact released in September before their decision to go on strike. He alleged that the resurfacing of this news is a ploy by authorities to quell their strike action.

“This money is not [new money] to settle the strike issue. It was released somewhere in September to clear outstanding transfer grants and car maintenance allowance for teachers across the country. 

“Sometimes the [authorities] want to use something to confuse the Ghanaian citizen. It is the money that was released [a while ago] when six regions out of sixteen declared their [intention to go strike]”.

Dr Owusu enumerated some key demands the teachers are expecting authorities to accordingly address in order to call of the strike. They included;

  1. settlement of “legacy arrears” which relates to outstanding arrears between 2012 and 2016
  2. Provision of logistics 
  3. Facilitation of promotions by the Ghana Education Service (GES)

He also asserted that the teacher unions have also not “officially received” any court order from the National Labour Commission (NLC) to “compel the teachers back to the classrooms”.

He mentioned that, the unions will addressed the public on the stance on the matter when they are duly served by the court.

Legacy arrears

On Friday, 28th November, 2019, the teacher unions staged a walk out in a meeting with Ghana Education Service (GES) and other governing authorities to register their displeasure and frustration about the delay in the salary arrears owed to some teachers within the period of 2012 to 2016.

According to the Head of Salaries and Conditions of Service of GNAT, K. Ahenawa-Quarshie, the Ghana Education Service pointed out some discrepancies in some payments for the arrears, for which they have been withheld. 

The discrepancies pointed out by GES was objected by the teacher unions because according to them the arrears were approved by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) before its submission.

They consequently gave the GES a one week ultimatum to settle arrears or they take action.

Strike declaration 

Last week Thursday, the teacher unions in a press conference declared a strike over the failure of the authorities to adhere to demands. The strike commenced on Monday, 9th December, 2019.

The NLC has demanded that the teachers call off the strike, describing the action as illegal. The GES has also labeled the activity “illegitimate” as they urged teachers to return to their classrooms.

The teacher unions have however asserted that “ until the last [teacher] receives their money” they will not call off the strike.

Source: Jonas Danquah || ghananewsonline.com.gh 

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