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Strikes in the education sector

Strikes in the education sector

By Jonas Anbazu, Former Assistant Registrar, UDS, Wa Campus

Just recently, Ghana marked International Teachers day which is a National event held at the University for Development Studies, Tamale, campus.

Several hard-working teachers were acknowledged with awards for their sterling performances over the year of assesssment.

It is becoming an irony that just few weeks after the honoring of teachers, the education front is rocked with series of strikes.

All is definitely is not well and on the education front.

Various Unions in our public Universities namely: Federation of University Senior Staff Association of Ghana, Teachers and Educational Workers Union, University Teachers Association of Ghana and Ghana Association of University Administrators, have all embarked on industrial actions effective October 17th, 2022.

As if this is not enough,we are also witnessing shop closures by the Ghana Union of Traders Association over what they described as the effect of the faltering national currency which is destabilizing their businesses. There was also the wahala of workers of Metro Mass Transport over unpaid salaries for several.months and welfare issues. All these industrial actions have consequences for both the country and the people.

Yes, on the University front, it will delay the academic calendar for thousands of students and parents to contend with as well as halting all services in our public Universities. Of serious concern to parents are the strikes by University workers who claim the government has not heeded to their demands for the payment of a number of allowances.

It is an acknowledged fact that the country is not in normal times and things are really difficult.

It is these difficulties that University teachers and other workers want to ease that is why they are demanding what is rightfully their entitlement.

To engage in social contract, one needs to make hard decisions to accommodate demands and stand by it as partners to the contract. When parties to an agreement don’t show magnanimity, good faith and sincerity, it creates acrimony with far reaching consequences that will affect society.

For instance, with all major stakeholders of our Universities on strike, activities like graduation ceremonies, marking of scripts, project supervision and admissions, will stall, because of simply unfulfilled negotiated conditions of service.

Today, the transport sector is gearing up to increase fares because of unbridled fuel increases.

Travellers and commercial perishable goods will bear the brunt of the transport sector turbulence. Also, on the fringes are warnings of the Controller and Accountant General’s Department staff to lay down their tools if the government fails to do the needful.

Happenings on the national labour front must give cause for concern.

Ideally, matters of this nature calls for national dialogue or forum where all stakeholders and the government will jaw-jaw to find an amicable solution to the myriad of challenges confronting us as a people.

Meanwhile, history shows that, industrial strikes are not recent phenomena. In ancient Egypt around 1152 BC under Pharaoh Ramses workers laid down their tools over issues of salaries and wages.

Globally, strikes are frequent labour language that the Employer understands. It could also be argued that what is happening in Ghana is nothing extraordinary or new. But what should be of concern to all and sundry is the capacity of such industrial actions to impact national development.

Everyone should all be concerned..

It is no joking matter that all these unions and other workers are up in arms calling for the betterment of their working conditions..

Strikes are latently disastrous and irreparable. Ghana, as a pacesetter in sub-Saharan Africa cannot be described as a failed nation. How soon shall we all join hands to map out the way forward? Education and Teaching cuts across all professions. In other countries, the government pays teachers well and little is heard about teachers’ strikes. Why is the story different in Sub- Saharan Africa, and for that matter Ghana?

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s once said, the government cannot pay a politician more than the one who taught them . If politicians are able to acquire whatever they want from their earnings or the opportunities around them , why shouldn’t the teacher in the classroom from their remunerations also acquire whatever they want? This is a vicious cycle that must end somewhere. Until all employees everywhere can live within the means of their wages and salaries, discontent expressed through strikes and demonstrations will continue to be with us for a long time to come.

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