CLAIM: Education Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh claims for the four years that the NPP has been in government, there’s not been a teachers strike or demonstration against government. Do the facts support this claim?
On Sunday 11th October 2020 the Education Minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh addressed a conference of the Volta Regional NPP Teachers’ Network in Ho. At this event he said “In three and half years, what your government has done is unparalleled. Today, I won’t talk about what we have done in education, I’ll talk about what we have done with teaching and teachers. And I would like those who claim they are Professors and held the Ministry for four years before I got there, to sit by me so we could count our achievements one by one. And for four years, there have not been a teacher demonstration or strike; that in itself should send NDC into the bush, if they were managing well, the car would not be parked near the bush. They never managed leadership, they exercised power but never were leaders,” he added.
To ascertain the veracity of the claim by the Education Minister, we must check reports of strike by teachers in the period of the Akufo Addo administration, which is from 2017 till date.
In the year 2017 the reports point to threats of strike.
The first threat came in October of that year when the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) – GH, gave government a one-week ultimatum to address issues concerning their salary arrears.
According to them the stakeholders agreed in principle to commence the validation exercise of teachers for payment of salary arrears on 11th September, 2017, for which notices were sent to members across the country and a resolution that over 65 thousand forms will be validated in 88 days.
This threat cooled and was resurrected in 2018.
A month later in November, members of the Coalition of Newly Recruited Graduate Teachers threatened to withdraw their services by the end of December 2017.
According to the graduate teachers, the action has become necessary because the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service and the Controller and Accountants Generals’ Department has denied them their six months’ salary arrears for which they have legitimately worked.
In February NAGRAT raised once more the issue of salary arrears and allowances and gave till end of March to have it settled else they would withdraw their services.
In April of that year NAGRAT declared an indefinite strike.
NAGRAT’s action followed what it described as the continuous refusal of government to pay arrears owed teachers.
The arrears are in respect of salary adjustments, up-grading, and promotions as well as outstanding Transfer Grants.
According to him, no convincing reasons have been given by government for the non-payments.
A day later government expressed disappointment at the position of NAGRAT. Information minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah in an interview on Morning Starr said government had released funds to pay the arrears.
Five days after declaring the strike, NAGRAT called it off saying the new payment agreement was satisfactory.
Then the Technical University Teachers’ Association of Ghana also declared a nationwide sit-down strike following the failure of government to migrate them onto the conditions of service enjoyed by their counterparts in traditional public universities.
According to the Association, in a letter dated July 26th, 2018 and copied to relevant authorities of state such as the Ministry of Education(MoE) and the National Council for Tertiary Education(NCTE) to expedite action along with the fair wages and salaries commission in relation to the situation has not yielded any results.
4 days later the strike was suspended as after a meeting between the Association and the National Labour Commission (NLC) on Thursday.
TUTAG has been asked to hold consultative meetings with the Ministry of Education and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to address its grievances.
Members of the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) also embarked on a strike over the past weeks over their welfare and the related matters.
Professor Kwesi Yankah, the Minister of State in-charge of Tertiary Education, then urged striking teachers of Colleges of Education to return to the classrooms as their grievances with market premium and research allowances are being addressed amicably.
The NLC eventually directed CETAG to call off the strike as the impact saw the colleges of education closed down. The strike lasted 24 academic days.
But The Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana(CETAG) in December threatened to revert to their strikes by January 2019 following what it describe as bad faith on the side of government after returning to the negotiation table.
NAGRAT carried out a strike action in the year 2019.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) declared an indefinite nationwide strike over some issues it said have negatively affected the Ghanaian teacher over the past three years.
Notable among the issues, it said, was the newly introduced Human Resource Management System (HRMIS) acquired by the Public Services Commission (PSC) “which has brought a lot of problems and pains to teachers” in the areas of promotion letters, additional responsibilities, difficulty in reinstating teachers, delay in promotion interviews and transfers, among other things.
One week later NAGRAT called off the strike following President Akufo-Addo’s directive for the suspension of the Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) software – which has become a major point of concern for teachers.
TUTAG carried out a strike in 2019 for 3 weeks. Dr. Solomon Keelson, the National Chairman of Technical Universities Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG), said lecturers will officially start academic work on Monday, November 4, after the three-week strike.
He said even though the Association had suspended the strike and resumed work on Tuesday, October 29, some of the students had left campus, hence the decision to start lectures on Monday.
Three teacher unions embarked on a strike in December 2019. The three striking Teacher Unions who embarked on a strike later agreed to call off the action following a court order secured by the National Labour Commission.
The order by an Accra High Court compelled the teachers to discontinue the industrial action.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) on December 5, 2019, declared a strike after a series of failed engagements with the government on Legacy Arrears incurred between 2012 and 2016.
The National Labour Commission while describing the industrial action as illegal, accused the Unions of failing to notify the commission before embarking on their strike.
The Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG) in January this year embarked on another strike action over non-payment of some allowances.
According to the association, the government has “refused to fully comply” with the ruling by the National Labour Commission (NLC) to ensure that members of the association started receiving allowances due them.
The Executive Secretary, National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) later urged the striking teachers of the technical universities to help resolve their issues by providing the data needed.
The strike was called off after 4 days.
In 2017 there were threats of strike, which were actualized in 2018 by NAGRAT, TUTAG and CETAG.
2019 also saw strikes by NAGRAT, CCT and TUTAG.
Contrary to what the Education Minister said that there has been no strikes or demonstration by teachers in his tenure as sector minister, the evidence shows that his claim is false.
VERDICT: OUTRIGHT LIE