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POTAG Strike Illegal - Minister
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Lee Ocran
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The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) started an indefinite strike Monday,over what it says is feet-dragging by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission(FWSC) concerning issues pertaining to its migration to the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Mr Lee Ocran, says the strike by POTAG is illegal since the FWSC has already approved the teachers’ placement on the SSSS.

In a statement, POTAG said its members would not return to work until their salaries under the SSSS were paid into their accounts.

The statement signed by the General Secretary of POTAG, Oswald Atiga, said out of the 25 functions the teachers performed, they were suspending only three, teaching, project supervision, and invigilation of examinations.

It said under the auspices of the Conference of Rectors of Polytechnics, all polytechnic finance officers, their payroll officers, the entire leadership of POTAG, and representatives of FWSC met at Excelsa Hotel in Kumasi from April 11 to 13, 2012 to conclude the mapping exercise, a crucial component of the migration process onto the single spine.

The statement said its members expected that they could receive their first single spine salary by the end of April, 2012, “but it was explained that May, 2012 looked practically feasible, a message which POTAG hesitantly accepted”.

The statement said on May 2, 2012 (two weeks after the FWSC had received the data), the leadership of POTAG made a follow-up to the offices of the FWSC only to be told that they had to provide the commission fresh bio-data of the entire membership of the 10 polytechnics by May 8, 2012.

Upon a follow-up to the offices of the FWSC again on the same issue on May 14, 2012, POTAG said, the FWSC acknowledged having received the data from all the 10 polytechnics but there was no indication that the new salaries would be paid.

The statement said information received by POTAG leadership from the Deputy Controller (FMS) at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department indicated that the final authorisation from the Ministry of Finance had not come and so the old salaries would be paid for the month of May, 2012.

“We particularly take exception to this because it contravenes the understanding we had with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), FWSC and the CAGD. The information that old salaries will be paid for the month of May, 2012 has caused irreparable anxiety among our members.

“There is a general feeling among our members of a calculated attempt on the part of all these institutions to unnecessarily and unduly delay the payment of the new salaries to our members,” it said, and that reliable information available to POTAG indicated that members would not get their single spine salaries even in June.

Reacting to the POTAG action, Mr Ocran said, “Their strike is illegal and they don’t have a case.”

Moreover, he said, the polytechnic teachers had not informed the employer (Ministry of Education) of their action before embarking on the industrial action.

Consequently, Mr Ocran told the Daily Graphic that the ministry would refer the matter to the National Labour Commission (NLC) for action.

He said following the approval for the teachers to be on the single spine, they were told that it would not be possible for them to receive their new salaries this month since the CAGD had already prepared salaries for all workers.

The teachers, he said, were, therefore, told to wait until next month to start receiving the new salaries but they insisted on receiving the new ones this month.

“Salaries had already been prepared before the letter left the FWSC to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and before the Ministry of Finance wrote to the CAGD last week,” the minister said.

He said there was no need to disturb the peace on the labour front as everything was being done to ensure industrial harmony.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has given a two-week ultimatum for clearing distortions in the salaries of doctors otherwise it will take a series of actions that may disturb the industrial harmony in the health sector.

The doctors have also resolved to petition President J. E. A. Mills for his immediate intervention.

In a statement issued by the GMA at the end of the third meeting of its National Executive Council, the association expressed its commitment to work with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) and, for that matter, the government for the resolution of the problems arising from the migration process.

The statement, jointly signed by the President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, and its General Secretary, Dr Frank Serebour, said the GMA would also lodge official protest and complaint with the National Labour Commission (NLC) to enforce the awards determined by the commission recently.

The statement said the salaries of doctors had been distorted since January, 2012, resulting in inconsistent monthly salaries.

It said there had been withdrawal of payment of the conversion difference (the difference between old basic salary and the new one).

The association said without resolving the grievances, its members would have reduced social security contributions and reduced pensions, contrary to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulations and the rules governing the Single Spine Pay Policy.

Responding, the Head of Public Affairs of the FWSC, Mr Earl Ankrah, said it was improper for GMA to blame FWSC when it knew perfectly well that FWSC had fulfilled its obligations.
Source: Emmanuel Bonney/D-Graphic

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