Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, we are pleased to welcome you to the Lyceum and are grateful that you honoured our invitation to this Press Conference even at extremely short notice.
It is unfortunate that this Press Conference like others addressed earlier is another cry for justice in the labour landscape with exclusive reference to teachers in the Ghana Education Service. By this communication, the leadership and the entire membership of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT)-Ghana, express utmost disappointment over government’s continuous lip-services to grievances of teachers tabled by the Teacher Unions since its inception. Over the past eleven (11) months, the Unions have been dialoguing with government on the need to settle all its indebtedness to teachers but all we have to show for our efforts and goodwill has been promises upon promises. The Minister of Education in particular has been assuring of the payment because according to him it is budgeted for. If that is true then why are we not being paid?
Ladies and gentlemen, this government came into office on the wings of provision of quality education with the teacher at the centre of its education agenda. It therefore defies all rules of normal reasoning that such a teacher-centred government would ignore legitimate entitlements of teachers for the past eleven months in spite of consistent reminders on the need to make good its own promises and assurances. We call on government to wake up from its slumber and give deserving teachers their due. Even though the grievances have been downplayed to appear banal and trite, we shall go over them again for recapitulation.
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCES, TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT ALLOWANCES AND TRANSFER GRANTS
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, it is sickening that government owes deserving teachers vehicle maintenance allowances, travel and transport allowances and transfer grants from 2013 to date in a brazen and blatant breach of the Collective Agreement between teachers and their employer. It is even more shameful that some of the amounts involved are as paltry as five Ghana cedis (GH ¢5.00) a month. It is absolutely untenable to lay such irresponsibility on the alter of budgetary constraints. For want of stronger words we can only say that the negligence we suffer is a clear demonstration of malice. It also buttresses the long stand claim that education is only good as a campaign tool but as a nation we are not ready to spend on it.
These are the realities on the ground amidst the well-rehearsed threats on teachers should they default in the performance of any of their duties.
Ladies and gentlemen, as at this Press Conference, there are tens of thousands of teachers whose salaries have been in arrears since 2013, their having satisfied all validation requirements notwithstanding. During the transition period, these issues were bought to the fore. Subsequently, the Minister of Education assured teachers that all the said salary arrears had been captured in the approved 2017 budget for the Ghana Education Service. Unfortunately, in the well-known characteristic style, it has remained promises and assurances any time the matter is raised at meetings. With the greatest respect, we wish to remind government that the labourer deserves his wages. As long as government cannot return the services already rendered by teachers to them it must pay the wages deserved at the commercial rate of returns over the period. What is even more unnerving is that the present government keeps on adding to its indebtedness by failing to pay even obligations that have been accruing in 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen, painful experiences are summarized not expatiated. We however want to make it clear that as a nation we cannot expect to get the best results in education if teachers are treated with disdain and disrespect. Let it be told and let it be heard that no matter the kinds of performance contract government signs with heads of school, we should forget about improvement if the usual mistreatment of teachers is not dealt with.
After the elections last year we celebrated and jubilated because a government that appeared serious about education won the election. But now we feel let down. The constant promises are now sounding melodiously as lies in our ears. We demand immediate payment of all government indebtedness to teachers or we will start flexing our muscles as never before.
We wish to assure government, that if all these outstanding concerns are not addressed completely before 31st December, schools will reopen alright for the second term of the 2017/2018 academic year but without teachers. Those who bring anti-infested firewood home must always be ready to accept the blame when lizards come to feast.