Controller freezes CETAG members’ salaries

The August salaries of members belonging to the Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG) have been frozen by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) as a result of their ongoing strike. This action was taken based on an earlier instruction from the Ministry of Education to freeze the salaries of these striking teachers for August.

The President of CETAG, Prince Obeng-Himah, confirmed that their members discovered their salaries hadn’t been paid when they attempted to withdraw them from their banks.

“Yes, there is evidence that the non-validation has taken effect.

When people went to the bank, they were not paid for the month of August,” he stated.

He noted that the National Labour Commission (NLC) hadn’t declared CETAG’s strike as illegal, as they had followed proper procedures. Thus, he asserted that the Ministry of Education doesn’t have the authority to decide the legitimacy of the strike.

Also read: No work, no pay – Education ministry justifies directive to CETAG

Obeng-Himah insisted that the strike by CETAG was valid and mentioned that they were prepared to address the matter step by step. If the NLC ruling was unsatisfactory, they were open to various options, including seeking legal recourse through the Appeals Court or Supreme Court.

“If the NLC’s ruling is not satisfactory, we are open to several options, including going to the Appeals Court or Supreme Court.

So, we are determined to follow through to ensure that justice is served tutors of the colleges of education,” he emphasised.

Obeng-Himah criticized the Ministry of Education’s lack of action as illegal and unacceptable. He believed that the ministry should retract its decision and pay the withheld salaries to the tutors.

CETAG members began their strike on August 1, 2023, to pressure the government into adhering to their negotiated conditions of service. The Ministry of Education instructed CAGD to withhold August salaries and allowances for CETAG members who were on strike.

“We have the legal right and economic right and that the Ministry of Education needs the teachers and the teachers also need the ministry and so there should not be a situation like somebody is showing someone where power lies.

“We want to maintain that the inaction of the Ministry of Education is completely lawless and unacceptable and the earlier if rescinds its decision and pay the withheld salaries of the tutors, the better for all of us,” he said.

A letter from the Director of Administration of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) on August 21, 2023, directed CAGD not to pay salaries and allowances for August 2023 to the teaching staff of the colleges of education.

“We write at the instance of the Minister of Education, requesting you not to pay monthly salary and allowances for the month of August 2023 to the teaching staff of all the 46 colleges of education.”

Also Read: Justin Kodua sends strong signal to party members over violation

A statement from CETAG’s leadership on July 10, 2023, explained that their strike was due to the government’s failure to implement the National Labour Commission’s (NLC) Arbitral Award Orders and negotiated conditions of service since May 2, 2023.

The decision to strike was prompted by the extended negotiations with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) that led to compulsory arbitration by the NLC in May 2023. The NLC’s Arbitral Award Orders were issued on May 2, 2023, granting CETAG members a new condition of service from January 1, 2023.

“The leadership of CETAG wishes to serve notice of our intention to withdraw our services across the 46 public colleges of education effective Tuesday, August 1, 2023, if by Monday, July 31, 2023, the government has not implemented our negotiated allowances together with the one-off payment of one month’s basic salary based on CETAG’s salary grade as compensation for additional duty performed in 2022 payable to tutors per NLC’s Arbitral Award Order given on May 2, 2023,” it said.

CETAG warned that they wouldn’t continue with the current academic calendar in the public colleges of education, which they believed was harmful to teachers. They suggested an alternative approach to allow all cohorts of students to complete the academic year together and enable tutors to take their breaks between semesters.

“Following the NLC’s Compulsory Arbitral Award, the parties proceeded to sign off the negotiation agreement, which has been communicated to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) by FWSC since May 26, 2023, for approval and implementation.

“Surprisingly, the MoF has refused to act on the FWSC’s letter, together with the NLC’s Arbitral Orders, in spite of letters we have written to the MoF requesting the immediate implementation of the negotiated agreement. Practically, CETAG members cannot continue to survive on expired 2020 CoS in this biting economy of Ghana,” it said.

“After all, no law says all tertiary students should be accommodated on campus,” he added.

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