Members of the National Executive Committee of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), members of the Association herein gathered, friends from the media, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed grateful for your presence here considering the fact that our invitations were extended to you at very short notice. We wholeheartedly welcome you to this Press Conference. It is our expectation that you will listen attentively, seek the necessary clarifications and report accurately on the issues this conference will address.
The National Executive of NAGRAT is compelled to organise this Press Conference to bring to light for yet another time, unresolved concerns of the Association stemming from lack of interest on the part of our employer the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC),and for that matter government of Ghana to address them. Allow me to take the concerns one after the other for ease of reference.
- 1. NON NEGOTIATION OF CATEGORIES 2 & 3 ALLOWANCES FOR TEACHERS
Ladies and gentlemen, it would be recalled that teachers were migrated onto the Single Spine Salary Structure in January 2010 though the implementation of the Pay Policy took place in January 2011. As at the time of this Conference, all arrears due teachers on the Pay Policy have been paid albeit being spread over a long period of time-a situation that caused severe loss of value in the amounts received. One underlying principle of the Single Spine Pay Policy is the standardization and harmonisation of allowances. The essence of this exercise is to achieve equity in public sector remunerations. The allowances under consideration include Categories 2 and 3 allowances. While some service classifications migrated onto the Single Spine Salary Structure with some of these allowances, workers in the Ghana Education Service went onto the Structure without any allowances.
Efforts to get the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to negotiate the allowances with Teacher Unions have been futile.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me recount the following to illustrate the frustrations Teacher Unions are going through to obtain what is legitimately theirs.
a) As far back as Friday 11th March 2011, NAGRAT , GNAT and TEWU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and witnessed by the then Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Honourable Enock Teye Mensah. Item 6 of the MOU called for a roadmap for consideration of Categories 2 and 3 allowances for public sector employees.
b) By a letter of 13th July 2011, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission invited stakeholders to a meeting on 19th July 2011 to sign the rules of engagement developed to guide negotiation of allowances.
c) On 28th June 2011, the Vice President of NAGRAT addressed a Press Conference at the National Secretariat. In the address, he called on the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to speed up the process of harmonization and standardization of allowances so as to eliminate the disparities.
d) The Deputy General Secretary of NAGRAT wrote to the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission on 21st May 2012 lamenting the delay in the negotiation of various categories of allowances.
e) On 15th June 2012, the General Secretary of NAGRAT sent a reminder on the delay in the negotiation of Categories 2 and 3 allowances to the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
f) In a submission of 5th July 2012, the General Secretary of NAGRAT wrote another reminder to the Chief Executive, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
g) On 5th July 2012, the General Secretary of NAGRAT raised the issue in a press conference address, urging the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to expedite action on the matter.
h) On 10th July 2012, the President of NAGRAT wrote to the Minister of Education to intervene in the matter so as to cause the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to convene a meeting in order to resume negotiations of the allowances. The only meeting that Fair Wages and Salaries Commission called for the negotiation was on 8th February 2012 and that meeting was adjourned a few minutes after commencement.
i) The General Secretary of NAGRAT wrote to the Director General of the Ghana Education Service on a number of concerns including delay in the negotiations of Categories 2 and 3 allowances for teachers on 11th January 2013.
It is pertinent to note, Ladies and gentlemen that all major stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the GES Management and Council, the FWSC, the National Labour Commission were copied these correspondence and yet no actions were taken to address the concern.
Ladies and gentlemen, having followed the developments aimed at resolving the deliberate denial of the legitimate right of teachers to allowances, it is clear that NAGRAT cannot be blamed should any unfortunate developments occur at the labour front.
2. MARKET PREMIUM FOR TEACHERS
As part of the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy, certain categories of workers are entitled to market premium. Contrary to what the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has made us to believe that negotiation of market premium has not yet began, we were surprised to realise that a lot of workers within the public sector are being paid the market premium. Efforts to get the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to sit down with Teacher Unions to negotiate market premium have fallen on deaf ears. This development is unfair, discriminatory and a clear attempt to keep teachers disadvantaged amongst their colleagues. It is therefore not a surprise that teachers are angry and poised to fight to the hilt.
3. ANNUAL INCREMENTAL CREDITS FOR TEACHERS
Annual incremental credits have been a long standing entitlement for all teachers in Ghana the date of incremental credit being 1st September each year. However, upon migration of the Ghana Education Service workers onto the Single Spine Salary Structure the payment of annual incremental credits came to the halt. Series of letters have been written to the Ghana Education Service and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to right the perpetuation of this wrongful act but both institutions have treated our demand with the contempt it does not deserve.
4. VEHICLE MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCE
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, another issue which the Ghana Education Service has sought to trivialise is the non payment of vehicle maintenance allowance to deserving teachers. Information available to NAGRAT indicates that almost all public sector workers entitled to the allowance have received payment of it. As usual, teachers in the Ghana Education Service have been denied vehicle maintenance allowances from January to December 2012. As the Ghana Education Service management has refused to respond to our request for the allowances to be paid, one can conclude that a deliberate effort is being made to terminate the facility. If the GES management cannot improve upon the conditions of service of teachers, it should at least allow what pertains to remain. We therefore demand an immediate payment of the allowances with arrears through the Controller and Accountant General’s Department as is done to others.
5 SUPERVISION AND INVIGILATION OF EXAMS CONDUCTED BY WAEC
Very soon, two (2) streams of Senior High School Students to wit SHS 3 & SHS 4, will be sitting the Senior High School Certificate Examination. Compensation for teachers who will be supervising and invigilating the exams has been a concern for a long time now. Unfortunately, the GES has clearly demonstrated its disinterest in negotiating appropriate compensation for teachers who will be risking their lives and energy for the success of the exercise.
Supervision and invigilation of exams conducted by WAEC is not part of the core duties of teachers and our Conditions of Service makes it clear that any examination conducted for or on behalf of an external body shall be paid for on time piece basis. So far as WAEC is not a part of the GES, teachers deserve adequate compensation. If this is not done, NAGRAT will have no option than to organise a general boycott of WAEC invigilation.
From the foregoing, it is clear that these problems did not arise yesterday. They have been around for years. Inspite of the numerous commitments NAGRAT has demonstrated in pursuit of amicable resolutions, the employer has abundantly exhibited bad faith in the matter. Consequently, the Association has given the employer up to 25th January 2013 to resolve all outstanding issues or face industrial action. As we speak, the disquiet among teachers has assumed alarming proportions and they are ready to go the full haul for the resolution of these grievances. Meanwhile, the National Labour Commission has already been served notice of our intentions.
We call on all Heads of institutions as well as Directors of Education not to stand in the way of teachers who are fighting for their legitimate rights. We have been cheated for far too long and the time to act is now.