Education

UTAG strike: Be sensitive to students, your strike is wrong, says NUGS

The student organisation says even though UTAG has a genuine case, the timing for the strike is wrong with barely a few days to exams

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has registered its displeasure against the ongoing strike by the University Teachers Associating of Ghana (UTAG), describing the approach as wrong.

The student body said even though UTAG has a genuine case, the timing for the strike is wrong considering the impact on academic activities and examinations.

A statement issued and signed by the president of NUGS, Emmanuel Boakye Yiadom, said: “We implore all students to remain calm as the Union engages all parties involved for an amicable resolution.

“That notwithstanding, we disagree with the strike approach considering its effect on students, especially within the abnormal times we find ourselves in and the earlier obstruction of academic work by the global shutdown. UTAG and SSA-UoG must as an act of good faith towards students and government avoid an entrenched position in all dialogues to address their concerns.”

“We appeal to our lecturers to stay in the classroom for the sake of the future generation as they continue to negotiate with the appropriate quarters since Ghanaian students shouldn’t always be at the receiving end,” the statement added.

Academic activities grind to a halt

Meanwhile, academic activities on major campuses of public universities across the country have virtually come to a halt following the strike by UTAG.

Members of the association are to lay down their tools and stay off teaching, examinations, and invigilation, marking of examination scripts, and processing of results until further notice to press home their demand for better condition of service.

The teacher union had since the beginning of July warned of industrial action if the government does not resolve their concerns over their conditions of service.

Checks by Asaase Radio on the campuses of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Cape Coast, and the University of Ghana reveal most of the lecture halls have been abandoned.

“We’re stranded”

A Level 400 student at the University of Cape Coast, Emmanuel Asante, said: “This morning we were supposed to have a class, I called our lecturer and he was like the class has been cancelled because they are on strike.

“So, we don’t know when and already our timetable has been delayed because of the COVID-19 and this issue too has popped up and it has really left us stranded.”

Another student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Richard Chidi, called on the government to intervene.

“I heard a colleague on Friday that they [lecturers] will be going on strike… we don’t know our fate now so I think something should be done as soon as possible,” he said.

Reasons for strike

A statement issued by the National Executive Committee (NEC), and jointly signed by Professor Charles Marfo, the UTAG national president, and Dr Eric K. K. Abavare, the national secretary, said members on the various campuses ought to comply with this directive.

The decision to embark on an industrial strike, according to the NEC, was borne out of the government’s refusal to heed calls by the association to improve the worsening conditions of service of the university teachers.

It said the association was not happy at the way the authorities had been dragging their feet on negotiations concerning the welfare of the teachers.

“Specifically, negotiation of our conditions of service which was started some two years ago had overly been delayed with no end in sight,” Prof. Marfo told the Ghana News Agency (GNA), in a recent interview in Kumasi.

He said the UTAG was carrying out its threats to demonstrate to the government the seriousness attached to the members’ demand for the right thing to be done.

According to the NEC, the attitude of the representatives of the government in the series of meetings held over the week suggested that the university teachers were being taken for granted.

“We have no option than to resort to an indefinite strike,” the UTAG National President noted.

Ray Charles Marfo

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