UTAG threatens strike over book and research allowances despite government assurances

University teachers say officials have failed to pay their book and research allowances for the just-ended academic year but the government says it has

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) threatened on Friday to embark on a strike if their book and research allowances (BRA) are not paid by the government. UTAG said none of its members had received the allowance despite countless petitions to the authorities in charge.

The government however announced that allowances were paid in full to all qualified tertiary education staff on the same day, Friday 11 September.

In a statement, the president of UTAG, Professor Charles Marfo, said the association’s members had gone through all the needed documentation but were yet to be paid what was due them.

“[UTAG] has observed with concern that the Book and Research Allowance (BRA) for its members for the last academic year (ie, 2019/2020 academic year) has not been paid as of today, 11th of September 2020,” the statement said.

It further said, “Despite the fact that all the necessary and needed documentation to facilitate the payment of BRA has been presented to the appropriate institutions of the government and the fact that we have been told time and again that payment has been made through the GIFMIS system, no member of UTAG has received these allowances.”

Ultimatum for strike

It remained unclear why the strike was being called despite the government’s announcement.

UTAG insisted it would advise its members to stop working if the government did not resolve the allowance issue immediately.

It said they will begin its strike if the government did not meet its demands by today, 14 September.

“Countless attempts to see the powers that be in government to see to it that the last academic year’s BRA is paid to its members continue to bear no fruits.”

“[We] will advise its members to cease seeing to any of their functions from Monday, 14 September 2020, if, by the close of this set date, we have still not been paid the allowances,” the statement added.

Licensure exams postponed

Meanwhile, the Ghana Teacher Licensure Examination (GTLE) has been moved from this month to October 2020.

The GTLC was originally scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 September but will now come off on 1 and 2 October 2020.

This was announced in a statement signed by the public relations officer of the Ghana National Teaching Council, Dennis Osei-Owusu.

He said the postponement was necessary because of “the change in date of the end-of-second semester examination for continuing students of the various colleges of education across the country. The Council uses the colleges as centres for the GTLE, so, their postponement affected the initial date,” the statement added.

E A Alanore

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