NAGRAT to go on strike
Graduate teachers in the country, under the umbrella of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), are up in arms again, ready to lay down their tools from Monday, November 30 as a result of what they claim is a lowering of their conditions of service.
The decision to embark on the industrial action was taken at a meeting of the association in Sunyani at the weekend, following which the National Council directed its members to lay down their tools with effect from Monday. They have also been directed not to participate in any official duties from the date of the strike.
The teachers’ action comes one week ahead of the first-term examinations of most senior high schools in the country. The President of NAGRAT, Mr Kwame Alorvi, told the Daily Graphic that the association had given notice of its intended strike to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) after several unsuccessful efforts to get issues related to teachers’ conditions of service resolved.
At the core of their grievances is a reduction in their responsibility and car maintenance allowances from GH¢l and GH¢40, respectively, to 30Gp and GH¢7, respectively. A statement signed by the Eastern Regional Vice Chairman of NAGRAT, Mr Kwaku Djan-Asante, and circulated to members in the region, said the government, instead of adjusting upward the responsibility and car maintenance allowances, had rather reduced them.
It said apart from that, NAGRAT members who were due for interview for promotion had not been called, despite assurances by the Minister of Education to that effect. According to the statement, the Director-General of the GES had also not directed headmasters to make invigilation of the WASSCE optional, thereby paving the way for headmasters to coerce teachers to invigilate, with its attendant risks and meagre allowances.
It recalled that in 2006 NAGRAT members embarked on an industrial action over WASSCE invigilation and allowances but the then government could not address the problem. The national consensus was arrived at after a tour of the regions, during which NAGRAT executives held meetings with members to thoroughly discuss their conditions of service.
An ultimatum given by NAGRAT to the government for discussions of its conditions of service expired on October 30, 2009 but there was no response. Mr Kwame Alorvi, who led the discussions, said the tour was to enable the NAGRAT leadership to interact with members of the association for their views on those issues.
Graduate teachers have, for the past three years, been in negotiations with the Ministry of Education over emoluments and other packages. Discussions were expected to have been concluded last month but the critical issues, including emoluments, delays in the payment of allowances of members and cuts in allowances, remain unresolved.
Earlier, Mr Alorvi had told the Daily Graphic that a house master, for instance, was formerly paid a monthly allowance of GH¢1; senior house master, GH¢1.50, and headmaster between GH¢3 and GH¢5, but the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had recently reduced that to 30Gp, 70Gp and GH¢1, respectively.
The promotion of members of NAGRAT had also stalled for some years now, he said, adding that teachers were being denied their rights to their salary entitlements and benefits, as promotions were tied-to them. He said the excuse given by the authorities was that there were no funds to conduct the interviews for the promotions.