The National Labour Commission is set to make some key decisions in the protracted dispute between government and the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana, (CETAG) in a crucial meeting with stakeholders.
This comes on the back of an announcement by government that members of CETAG will not be paid their August salaries due to no work done.
In a release signed by the Director of Administration for the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), Saaka Sayuti, the Commission noted that the freeze of remuneration will affect the teaching staff of all the 46 Colleges of CETAG.
“We write at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Education, requesting you NOT to pay monthly salary and allowances for the month of August 2023 to the Teaching Staff of all 46 Colleges of Education,” portions of the release dated August 21 stated.
The notice however, directed the Controller and Accountant General (CAGD) to validate and pay the arrears owed to CETAG before August 2023.
Backing this decision, the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Education, Kwesi Kwarteng insisted that for their failure to work, the CETAG members do not qualify to be paid.
“What the Ministry of Education is saying is that in the month of August, you did not go to work, you did not work even against the National Labour Commission telling you that ‘since all you are looking for has been agreed upon and has been approved and payment is scheduled for next month, you have to go to work’, but CETAG said no.
“And we know that CETAG just like most of these Colleges of Education, is just like an industrial hub. You work to produce output and then they use that money to pay you. If you don’t go to work, the fundamental question that we must ask ourselves is that, where do we get the money to pay you?”
Justifying the decision further, Mr. Kwarteng said the Ministry had kept CETAG updated on issues including the decision by government to backdate and pay all arrears, hence the refusal to call off the strike was in bad faith.
“What the Ministry of Education did was that, we indicated those four items for the Ministry of Finance to take into account. That was done and approval was given for payment but that was around 21st of July because we were just entering into August and the Ministry of Education informed CETAG that ‘well, this is where we are. Everything has been approved and in any event in terms of the payment, all outstanding arrears are going to be backdated so you can then go to work’ because all the concerns they were looking for have finally been resolved.
“Because what Controller told the Ministry of Education is that if indeed they want to effect the payment as at last July, it was not going to be possible. What it essentially means is that they will have to sacrifice the entire payment structure for all civil servants in Ghana. So it was resolved that August, they will make the payment and of course the payment was going to take into account all outstanding arrears but CETAG said no,” he added.
Reacting to this, President of CETAG, Prince Obeng Hema said the Education Ministry’s decision was taken without recourse to the series of events that have led to this point.
Also read: CETAG Strike: Members’ August salary withheld
Speaking to JoyNews, Mr. Hema said it would have been better for the Minister to engage the executives to discuss the issues, and subsequently withdraw the decision not to pay them.
“The last time we were before the National Labour Commission, the Commission made a passionate appeal to us to call off the strike because they had started the process of resolving the matter.
“I believe there is some kind of misinformation and some kind of disconnect so the Minister isn’t getting our intentions very clear.
“Naturally, if I were the Minister and we were on strike and I had invited you and I get information that you won’t come, definitely I will feel upset and that will embolden you to take such a decision.
“That is why we reached out to him by writing to him to give him the background behind these things. So I believe this is the time for us to have an interface, not a show down, so that we will be able to have a conversation with him.
“This directive can be withdrawn because we think that the National Labour Commission and all the other people that refereed the issue haven’t declared our action as illegal