UTAG strike: Public universities in Ghana face closure as education crisis grow

Empty lecture hall at the University of Ghana. Photo credit: Myjoyonline.com

Academic activities in Ghana’s public universities could grind to a halt as the government and striking lecturers continue to tussle over demand for better conditions of service.

The strike, declared by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) is nearing its 21-day ultimatum for the continuous suspension of academic activities.

By statutes, public universities must be closed down after 21 days of non-academic work.

UTAG resolved to continue its strike unabated, despite the National Labour Commission (NLC)’s declaration of the industrial action as illegal.

That resolution was reached after the 15-member campuses of the Association held independent emergency meetings during which each of them expressed their disagreement with the directive.

In a statement dated January 19, 2022, the group said, “the members have unanimously resolved to continue with the withdrawal of teaching and related services until further notice. By this cover note, all members are entreated to remain calm.”

Among other things, UTAG wants government to reconsider the payment of its annual research allowance to a more realistic allowance “as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.”

They also want the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114% of Basic Salary restored.

According to UTAG, until their demands for improved conditions of service are met, they cannot call off the strike.

Misery for students

Academic work has stalled for barely a month since students reported to their respective campuses across the country.

Students say they are facing a bleak future as labour deadlock between the government and professors continues.

“My colleagues are just not happy”, said Ms Onyenye Okoli, President of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) branch of the International Students Association.

“For us, we are just hopeful that the teachers will return to work…Sadly, this has happened at the time most of our colleagues are getting ready for national service in their home country and there are fears this could delay due to the strike”, she added.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry says it is working behind the scenes to get UTAG members back to work.

SOURCE: DAILY MAIL GH and News Agencies

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