The labour unions of the public universities in Ghana are collectively giving the government an ultimatum up to 15th October 2023 to pay all their delayed allowances or they embark on an industrial action.
The announcement was made in a press conference on 28th September, 2023, which was organized by the labour unions of public universities namely; the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA), Senior Staff Association of Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) and Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU).
Addressing the media, National Chairman of SSA-UoG Issac Donkoh stated that the unions are giving the government an ultimatum up till the 15th of October 2023 to pay their car maintenance allowances restore all withheld allowance arrears at the new rate agreed upon in the memorandum of understanding signed with government on 8th December 2022.
He mentioned that the unions will embark on a strike action on the said date if their concerns are not addressed promptly.
“We are giving government up to 15 October to restore all these allowances. Our vehicle maintenance allowance, off-campus allowance, overtime and other related allowances. If they fail to restore [all the arrears], we are going to withdraw all our services across all university campuses,” he warned.
The national president of GAUA, Dr. Mrs. Beth Offei-Awuku also addressing the press, lamented the government’s failure to honour its promise to pay all withheld allowances after the labour unions allowed a nine-month grace period in expectation of the said allowances.
She chronologically outlined the series of events that have led to their agitation.
“About a year ago, the four labour unions in the public universities in Ghana embarked on a nationwide strike to protest government’s unilateral decision to vary some items in our conditions of service. This was [supposedly] resolved by a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the unions and government to restore these allowances by an agreed schedule.”
“On the revision of fuel allowances payable to eligible staff in the public and technical universities with reference number stated here ‘BD/CMU/22/08/SAL.1’ dated 5th August 2022 signed by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Hon Abena Osei Asare on behalf of the minister of finance which was duly copied to the Director-General of GTEC. This directive was intended for the payment of newer rates of the said allowances.”
“The university management upon receipt of the letter started its implementation of payment of the new rates for fuel and related allowances. But after 2 months of the payment of the agreed rates, they were again directed to stop paying the new rates of the vehicle and off-campus allowance which has always been tied to the fuel allowances.”
“The labour unions did not take kindly to this decision made by the government and embarked on a nationwide strike on the 5th of October 2022, which lasted close to 2 months, and the government had to rescind its decision to decouple the vehicle maintenance, off-campus and the fuel allowances.
“The labour unions agreed to government’s moratorium of 9 months, that is between November 2022 and July 2023, but government paid us nothing yet we waited and then the payment was supposed to start after July.”
“Now there was a letter that made payment start in August and then currently in September, government has decided to pay only part of the arrears instituting the old rate. This situation has resulted in rising tension and profound distrust among members across all the public universities in Ghana,” She said.
Further speaking, she called on the government to address their concerns as quickly as possible as the members of the unions are struggling under the harsh economic crisis that has befallen the nation.
“These situations have made Public University workers very unhappy in the face of the current economic conditions in the nation, and we call on the Employer to URGENTLY address the differences to forestall the hardships faced by the affected workers as the posturing of the Government through its agencies in the tertiary education landscape appears bent on derailing the little gains achieved.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mrs. Offei-Awuku called on the members of the union to be persistent and resistant to the government’s failure to go by the conditions innthe aforementioned agreement
“The concerned Labour Unions are asking the rank and file of their membership to remain calm and steadfast, and that the labour unions will resist any attempt by the Employer to vary the terms of the agreed Conditions of Service without due process.”
Dr. Mrs. Offei Awuku ended by reiterating the union’s decision to strike on the 15th of October 2023 if the employer fails to restore their allowances at the revised rate.
“The Unions also take this opportunity to advise the Employer to be circumspect as we do not take delight in disrupting the academic calendar, however, when compelled to do so, we will not hesitate. The undersigned labour unions hereby demand an immediate reversion to the signed MOU between them and the Government on or before 15th of October 2023 or we withdraw all our services.”
Below is the press statement from the labour unions calling on government to restore their allowance arrears with a threat to embark on strike action.
Story by: Esther Esenam Ofori | univers.ug.edu.gh