The fate of students in public pre-tertiary education continue to hang in the balance as a meeting the striking teacher unions held Monday with key stakeholders to resolve the impasse over legacy arrears ended inconclusively.
The Ghana News Agency’s monitoring team noted that though the schools opened on Monday, the teachers generally boycotted their academic work, leaving the students, especially those in Junior High School, who are scheduled to write their End of Term Examinations frustrated.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the Controller and Auditor-General’s Department held hours-long meeting, in Accra, with the leadership of the unions, which called the strike, but could not find a common ground.
The Ghana Education Service (GES), has, meanwhile reported the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers – Ghana, to the National Labour Commission, over their industrial action, which it describes as ‘illegitimate’ and a breach of good faith.
The leadership of the Unions, who declined to discuss the details of their meeting, except to state that it was ‘inconclusive’, told the Ghana News Agency that their more than 300,000 members would stay away from the classrooms until the last of the beneficiary of legacy arrears had been paid.
The matter, they said, had dragged on for too long, trying their patience to the limit.
According to the GES, the legacy arrears relate to outstanding salary arrears between 2012 and 2016, which affected 120,232 of its staff.
In a statement, issued, on Sunday, and signed by the Director- General, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, in reaction to the declaration of the strike, the GES said 87,556 of the original beneficiaries, whose claims had been vetted and approved had been paid as of September 2019, it said.
It said at its last meeting with the Unions on Monday, December 2, there was an understanding that the GES was working to clear the rest of the arrears to deserving beneficiaries by the Christmas break.
The statement added that the GES was in the process of validating the claims presented to it by the Auditor-General’s Department to clear some anomalies detected.
“On 9th November 2019, Management of the Ghana Education Service received another set of data from the Controller and Accountant General covering 1,847 personnel who were to be paid their salary arrears.
“A close examination of the data indicated the following anomalies, which would have led to an excess payment of about GH¢11,300,376.00:
“Some of the personnel were to be paid undeserved ranks. Some of the names had no personal records on the GES payroll from 2012 2014 to establish that they could be owed arrears over that period
“Some of the listed personnel were not owed any salary arrears and yet had been credited with huge sums of money and in some case up to GH¢58,000.00.
“Some female personnel were to be paid night watchmen allowances when they have never been night watchmen with the GES.
“Some staff who were owed by six months have been credited for only two months.”
The GES, therefore, asked its teaching staff to report to work as usual.
The Unions are, however, saying that none of the anomalies identified were caused by the beneficiaries so they should not suffer for it.
The GES, they said, should go ahead to authorise payment and sort out the issues with the Controller and Auditor-General’s Internal Audit Department.
Meanwhile, some of the teachers have told the GNA that they are in a fix whether to go with their employer’s directive to perform their duties or stay home in solidarity with their affected colleagues.