Leadership failure led to litany of strikes in education sector – Ablakwa

The numerous strikes in the education sector can be put down to leadership failure, former deputy education minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said.

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTA), Senior Staff Association Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) and the Federation of Universities Senior Staff Association (FUSSAG) declared simultaneous strike actions last week over their conditions of service.

SSA-UoG and FUSSAG, however, suspended their strikes following the National Labour Commission’s ruling on August 6, 2021, and various interventions made by the Minister of Education, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission on behalf of the government that culminated in a road map to serve as a guide to the resolution of their concerns.

UTAG, however, has defied a court injunction and continuing its strike.

Also, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) have served notice of a possible labour disturbance if their concerns bordering on the signing of performance contracts and conditions of service are not addressed by the end of September.

Speaking to Blessed Sogah on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme on Tuesday, 10 August 2021, Mr Ablakwa said: “It’s really unfortunate that we have been hit by this litany of strikes, which appear well-coordinated”.

“So, it’s not only UTAG, you have TEWU, FUSSAG and virtually the whole gamut of teaching and non-teaching staff of our universities, who have all taken up arms, so to speak, so, it calls for our government to move in quickly and be proactive”, he said.

“Clearly”, he noted, “what has happened is a failure of leadership”.

Mr Ablakwa explained: “Our government should have been able to foresee this and they should have done what they ought to have done to prevent this from happening and it is really unfortunate that students have become, if you like, the victims of this whole strike actions and it also does appear that the students are being used as the bargaining chip because once exams have been postponed and there is no academic work going on, then it more or less forces the hand of whoever the unions expect to act – whether it’s the labour commission, labour ministry or the president, finance minister or education minister – all of those authorities who must act; once they know that the students are suffering, traumatised, have their academic calendar thrown out the window, then they are compelled to act”.

“So, it’s really unfortunate”, he said.

“I have always decried the situation where the students become victims who didn’t invite this upon themselves because they have paid their fees, they have done what they must do but unfortunately they are caught in the middle of the crossfire”, Mr Ablakwa bemoaned.  


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