The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has declared a nationwide strike effective today, as government struggles to find an antidote to the solution to the raging controversy generated by the new pay policy, the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) which teachers were put on.
Other teachers’ groups embarked on street protests a few days ago, warning that they would not return to work until they received enhanced salaries like the police. The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission said it was working on the allowances of the teachers.
But the teachers, who congregated at GNAT Hall in Accra, said what they were looking for were not just mere allowances but enhanced salaries that could compete favourably with other public workers, as typified by the police, who had jumbo pay rise after migration onto the SSSS.
The teachers appeared to have lost hope in President Atta Mills, who pleaded with them at the Independence Square on Sunday to exercise patience, assuring them that all the distortions would be corrected.
The agitated teachers said the president could not be trusted because the promise he made last year was not fulfilled.
Teachers are demanding risk, rent, transportation, clothing, lesson notes preparation, research, marking, internal invigilation, filing of continuous assessment and report cards, co-curricula activities as well as stationery allowances before they would call off their strike.
National Vice President of NAGRAT, Angel Carbonu, said national officers of the association took the decision to go on strike after an emergency meeting yesterday.
All NAGRAT members are therefore expected to stay away from the classrooms until further notice.
Despite the reported meeting between the Ministries of Education and Finance to find a solution to the impasse, Mr. Carbonu, said there were “no positive indications of a solution in sight.”
He said while other professional bodies migrated onto the SSSS continued to enjoy their allowances, those of teachers had been suspended.
The Eastern regional executive of NAGRAT has thrown its weight behind the decision of the national officers.
Their strike action started yesterday, with a directive to all of its members to stay away from school.
A statement issued and signed by the regional chairman, Kwaku Djan Asante, said information from the national secretariat of the association indicated that the purported discussion between the government and the national executives of the association yesterday did not yield any positive results.
“The regional executive of NAGRAT in the Eastern region wish to assure members in the region that we are fully aware of their cries all over the region as a result of their migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure.
“Until we hear something positive in the offing, members of NAGRAT will not go back to the classroom to teach,” Kwaku Djan Asante said.
Teachers Defy Mills
In defiance to President Mills’s call on them to exercise restraint as government works tirelessly to resolve their grievances, public teachers in Kumasi, on Tuesday, officially announced their intention to embark on an indefinite sit-down strike in protest over the anomalies in their migration onto the Single Spine.
The agitating teachers, mostly from the primary and Junior High School (JHS) levels, made their intention public when they held a rally at the Children’s Park at Amakom, a suburb of Kumasi.
Due to the action of the embittered teachers, public schools in the metropolis were compelled to close down again, thereby making students return home from school early in the morning.
Dubbed ‘Destiny Struggle Rally,’ the gathering was made up of irate teachers who, for the third day running, abandoned their classrooms in remonstration of what they described as unfair treatments meted out to them by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).
The infuriated teachers, who wore assorted mourning clothes and red bands on their necks and hands, sang war songs to register their displeasure.
They emphatically made it clear that they would only resume work if the Mills government credited their respective banks accounts with the right amount of money they were supposed to get under the new pay policy.
“After carefully listening to the press conference held by the Minister of Education March 3, 2011, without the teachers union, we still maintain our decision not to go to school until the government resolves the issues pertaining to our salaries and allowances,” the teachers said.
They continued, “We the teachers believe we have sown good seeds towards the developmental agenda of this country but when it matters that we benefit from our labour, we are sidelined and insulted.”
They explained some of the risks they encountered in the discharge of their duties as eye problems due to chalk dust and excessive reading, taking care of someone’s ward, threats from pupils and parents, asthma from chalk dust and poor working environment, among others.
Stressing that they would continue to stay in their homes if the aforementioned concerns were not addressed by the government immediately, the annoyed teachers charged the Minister of Education to render an unqualified apology to them.
According to them, they felt insulted and disrespected when Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrissu allegedly remarked in her press conference that teachers were unnecessarily comparing themselves to the police.
A similar rally was held in Bolgatanga, where hundreds of teachers from various schools in the municipality joined other teachers across the country to demonstrate against the anomalies in their salaries.
The teachers, most of whom boycotted the Independence Day celebration on March 6, 2011, left their classrooms as well, to participate in the demonstration which was characterized by stone-throwing at public property and chanting of war songs.
Source Daily Guide