Politics

We’re not in normal times but striking teachers have legitimate demand – Deputy Minister

Bright Wereko-Brobby, deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations has conceded that striking teachers at the pre-tertiary level have a legitimate reason to lay down their tools.

He added during a press briefing on Tuesday, July 5, that Ministry had scheduled a meeting with the four striking groups and will impress on them to return to their duty posts.

The deputy m, who is also lawmaker for the Hemang Lower-Denkyira Constituency pointed to the impact of COVID-19 on government finances recalling how teachers like all civil servants were fully paid their salaries despite being at home for close to a year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have gotten to where we are today because this government has tried its best to try and make sure everybody has life regardless of the global pandemics.

“I have said that they have a legitimate demand and we are going to meet them and discuss it, but let me also say that for some nine months, our teachers were at home … but this government continued to pay them and if today we have a global crisis …”

He cited the recent move by government to approach the International Monetary Fund, IMF, for support amid an economic downturn.

According to him, that alone should have sent a signal to the teachers that all was not well, “just a day or two, you say we should go and give COLA, we are meeting them tomorrow God willing… we will have discussions with them and plead with them to understand that we are not in normal times.”

COLA is the Cost of Living Allowance that teachers are demanding from government which allowance was agreed after talks months back but has yet to be honoured.

Addressing members of the press present, the Minister concluded: “All of you, I am pleading with you, start begging our teachers, so that when we meet them tomorrow, it becomes easy for us, say ‘amen!’”

The four groups involved in the industrial action are: The Ghana National Association of Teachers, GNAT; the National Association of Graduate Teachers, NARAAT; Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana, CCT and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union, TEWU.

Their principal reason was over failure of government to honour the payment of their 20% Cost-Of-Living-Allowance, COLA.

“We have been compelled under the current circumstances to publicly communicate to Ghanaians on our intention to go on strike having gone passed the June 30, 2022 deadline we gave government for the payment of Cost-of-Living-Allowance. Consequently, we have decided to embark on a Strike Action, effective today, Monday, July 4, 2022.

“By this, we are informing the general public that, we are withdrawing all our services in all the Pre-tertiary educational space. (Teaching & Non-Teaching Staff),” the group stated in a press release.

Meanwhile, GES as ordered that all schools are to remain open despite the announcement of an immediate strike by teaching and non-teaching staff in public schools nationwide.

The order was contained in a statement from the Ghana Education Service, GES, which said it had heard about the strike action in the media.

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