After several attempts made by a disgruntled employee of the Ghana Education Service to have his salary arrears paid for a period of two years of devoted service, the teacher (name withheld) has dragged his employer- the GES to the National Labour Commission.
The said teacher, who was part of a group of teachers whose salaries were not paid due to a financially debilitating policy introduced by the erstwhile NDC-Mahama government in 2013, (ie the Three Month Salary Arrears Pay Policy) has severally lamented and expressed his frustration over the denial and injustice meted out to the affected teachers. This has been the fate of the group of teachers employed into the Ghana Education Service from the period of 2012-2016.
Even though the GES with pressure from the teacher unions seemed to have been coming out with a number of letters purported to be addressing the issue, the problem still lingers on. The entire issue was shrouded in lies and deception as it took a political turn and twist with blame games. The height of the deception was seen some few months to the 2020 General Elections. The NPP-Nana Akufo-Addo led goverment made a political gain once again out the matter. A few of the affected teachers were partly paid with the majority seemingly forgotten. Many of the affected teachers who have not been paid the so called legacy arrears have given up after many processes of validations, auditing and resubmissions of documents to various quarters have decided to move on with their lives considering the loud silence of authorities.
From GII to NLC
However, upon several complaints through social media articles and also writing to some state institutions, the said teacher got the support he needed through the Ghana Integrity Initiative. (GII). Upon invitation and hearing his ordeal, the GII initiated a process with the National Labour Commission (NLC) by writing to the commission on behalf of the affected teacher.
An arbitration process was then commenced when the affected teacher filed an official complaint with the NLC. The Ghana Education Service was then served to respond to the complaint. In the response of the GES, they indicated that the affected teacher did not follow, entirely, all the grievance settling procedures laid down in the service before resorting to the NLC. They then referred to a page of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. A letter attached indicated that the matter ought to have been reported to the GES Council- the highest body in the service to resolve grievances.
However, it is baffling to know that, the GES who was all the while directing various affected teachers in their thousands to institutions such as the Ghana Audit Service for several unfruitful validation exercises should now refer an agrieved teacher to the Ghana Education Service Council- a body they knew could have resolved such an issue once and for all at the beginning.
Proceedings at the NLC
After, the GES has given their response as requested by the NLC, the latter went on to invite the complainant to a hearing on the case without serving the complainant, his copy of the response of the GES. On the scheduled date of the hearing, however, the teacher was served, after long hours of wait at the commission. There was a look of disappointment and frustration on the face of the complainant. He therefore went to his teacher union headquarters to further update the president of the union. The president who was equally disappointed in the response of the employer indicated that the document being referred to by the GES ie the Collective Bargaining Agreement has expired over ten years ago. “The GES cannot refer to an outdated document in determining this matter, “ he stated. He advised the teacher to file his response in that regard.
Declaration of Strike by Teacher Unions
As fate would have it, on the day of the hearing at the NLC, where the GES did not show up, the three major teacher unions; the GNAT, NAGRAT and CCT after several attempts of negotiations, declared a solidarity strike on the matter. The strike was announced later on the same day, after the complainant had served the NLC his response to the claim of the GES.
Schools were just about taking their end of term examinations in the following week of the strike. The teacher unions were resolute and firm on the matter. Members, including all affected teachers stayed off the classrooms. However, about a week of strike, the moment of irkness came when the arbitor and the employer joined forces to take on the unions and their members. The two institutions quickly went to court. The strike of the teachers for a legitimate cause was rendered illegal. A statement was issued by the court which demanded that the teachers returned to the classrooms. As law abiding as our teachers and their union leaders were, they went back to work. They however, did not fail to express their disappointment in the way the matter was handled by the arbitor and their employer.