The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) says its leadership will meet with its legal team to discuss the court order directing the teacher unions to call off their strike over the payment of legacy arrears.
The National Labour Commission, on Wednesday, secured a court order directing the three teacher unions under the Ghana Education Service: GNAT, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) to call off their nationwide strike and order their members to return to the classroom.
But reacting to the directive by the Court in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Daniel Affadu, the Deputy General Secretary in-charge of Administration and Labour Relations, said the leadership of the Association would soon hold deliberations on the directives to see the next line of action.
“The leadership is out of the jurisdiction, so I will find a way and communicate with them and sermon a meeting. We will talk to our legal team and then we will take it from there,” he said.
“Some engagement will take place and some decisions will be made, so I cannot say whether the strike will continue or not.”
He, however, expressed disappointment in the Labour Commission for going ahead to secure the order, saying it was a sign of bad faith on the part of the Government as they were still at the negotiating table to find an amicable solution to the impasse.
“We are highly disappointed,” he stated. “Government has not shown good faith because we were negotiating.
“We thought that we could all sit on the table and talk; but if they have gone ahead to seek this, we are a bit disappointed that the government is using its powers to bully the innocent poor union workers,” he said.
On Thursday, December 5, the three teacher unions declared a nationwide strike, which took effect on Monday, November 9, over what they term as legacy arrears owed to some of their members from 2012 to 2016.
The strike has seen more than 300,000 member s of the Unions boycotting academic work leaving their students in pre-tertiary public schools stranded.
The NLC, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Andy Kwabena Asamoah, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, explained its position: “On December 5, this year, NLC invited the representatives of Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Education and Fair Wages and Salary Commission, NAGRAT, GNAT and Coalition of Concerned Teachers CCT to appear before it to resolve the impasse relating to ‘Legacy Arrears’ of the said three Unions, which had culminated in a threat of strike.
“The Unions failed to appear before the Commission and to call off their threatened strike, which was to take effect from the 9th of December this year.
“Having disobeyed the directive of the NLC issued together with its letter summoning the parties to appear before it on 10th of December 2019.
“The NLC then proceeded to Court for an order of interlocutory injunction against the three unions”.
Thus the Court, presided over by Mrs Justice Ananda J.Aikins, in granting the NLC’s request stated: “It is hereby ordered that the respondents herein, whether by themselves, their executives, officers, members, agents, servants, employees or other persons, are to comply with directives of the National Labour Commission dated on December 5, 2019.
“It is further ordered that the respondents are restrained from further continuing any strike action.”
The Court said the order shall remain for a period of 10 days after which same might be repeated on notice.
Meanwhile, the GES, in its statement reacting to the declaration of the strike on December 5, said the arrears originally affected 120,232 of its staff.
The statement, signed by the Director- General, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, said it had paid 87,556 of the original beneficiaries, whose claims had been vetted and approved had been paid as of September 2019.
The statement added that the GES was in the process of validating the claims presented to it by the Auditor-General’s Department to clear some anomalies detected.
“On 9th November 2019, Management of the Ghana Education Service received another set of data from the Controller and Accountant General covering 1,847 personnel who were to be paid their salary arrears.
“A close examination of the data indicated the following anomalies, which would have led to an excess payment of about GH¢11,300,376.
“Some of the personnel were to be paid undeserved ranks. Some of the names had no personal records on the GES payroll from 2012 2014 to establish that they could be owed arrears over that period.
“Some of the listed personnel were not owed any salary arrears and yet had been credited with huge sums of money and in some case up to GH¢58,000.00.
“Some female personnel were to be paid night watchmen allowances when they have never been night watchmen with the GES.
“Some staff who were owed by six months have been credited for only two months.”
The GES, therefore, asked its teaching staff to report to work as usual.
The Unions, however, stated that none of the anomalies identified were caused by the beneficiaries so they should not suffer for it.
The GES, they said, should go ahead to authorise payment and sort out the issues with the Controller and Auditor-General’s Internal Audit Department.