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Child Rights International drags GNAT, NAGRAT, CCT to Supreme Court

According to the organization, strike actions embarked on by teachers are unconstitutional since they are an infringement on the rights of children

A civil society group for the promotion of the rights of children, Child Rights International, has sued three teacher unions: the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) for ‘illegally embarking on a strike action.

According to the organization, strike actions embarked on by teachers are unconstitutional since they are an infringement on the rights of children.

On 4 November, 2022, the three teacher unions embarked on a nationwide strike action to register their dislike for the appointment of Dr Eric Nkansah as the acting director general of the Ghana Education Service (GES).

However dissatisfied by this decision, the organization, which fights for the interests of children, invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for, among others, a declaration that the strike and all others are unconstitutional and thus sought a declaration in that regard.

Do teachers not have the right to unionize?

Correspondent Richard Osei Boateng reports that when he appeared before a 7-member panel of the Supreme Court on February 6, 2024, counsel for the plaintiff, in response to the panel, said that though teachers have the right to unionize under Article 24(3) of the 1992 Constitution, the right to strike is a limitation on unionization.

He further argued that, per Article 28(4) of the Constitution, all strikes, including the one in issue, are unconstitutional.

The said article states:

“No child shall be deprived by any other person of medical treatment, education, or any other social or economic benefit by reason only of religious or other beliefs.”

Panel unenthused

It was at this point that the panel presided over by the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Gertrude Torkornoo, expressed its dissatisfaction with the counsel’s line of argument and inconsistencies relative to his real reliefs before the court.

Their Lordships were not happy that an important organization like that was taking such an action, which they described as ‘unbridled’ because, according to them, strikes are an important part of our democracy.

Further, the court wondered whether any strikes do not affect any group of people and thereby described this one as not an exception.

In the end, the Supreme Court established that workers, including teachers, have a right to unionize as well as to strike and cannot grant the plaintiff’s relief.

The court then held that the suit was mischievous and incompetent after counsel had withdrawn it.

Subsequently, counsel was ordered to pay GHC 40,000 as a cost to be shared with each party in the suit.



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