Regional News of 2014-05-08

‘Don’t blame us for non-payment of teachers’ pension scheme’

The Ministry of Education has denied that it is responsible for the non-payment of the second tier pension scheme of teachers in the country.

Speaking to Joy News Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Education, Paul Krampah noted that the ministry should not be blamed for non-payment of the second tier pension deductions made from teachers’ monthly salaries.

According to him, teachers would have to follow up with the Finance Ministry and the Controller and Accountant General Department for their concerns to be addressed.

Mr. Krampah further noted that through the ingenuity of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance has drawn up a process to facilitate the payment of the second tier contributions to beneficiaries.

"The ministry is promoting the welfare of teachers", he asserted.

The ministry's reaction followed warning issued by the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) asking government to reverse its “three months arrears payment policy” among others or face an industrial action.

According to the teachers, the policy, which stipulates that teachers’ arrears beyond three months will not be paid, is "brutal and oppressive".

They have therefore issued a-ten-day ultimatum to government to reverse the policy or they will withdraw their services from the classroom.

"Teachers have decided to embark on a demonstration on 15th May in Accra and another one on 27th May in Kumasi. Further to that we have decided also decided to lay down our tools by 16th May if these issues are not properly attended to," NAGRAT President, Christian Addai-Poku indicated when he addressed journalists in Accra on Wednesday.

The teachers said government has also failed to address concerns about their pension contributions.

They accused government for poorly handling the 2nd tier pension scheme of workers of the Ghana Education Service (GES), refusing to pay incremental credit arrears, introducing the new three months arrears payment policy, the GES staff rationalization and non-payment of transfer grant among others.

The Association noted that the various teacher associations such as NAGRAT, GNAT and TEWU engaged a consultant at their own cost to work with GES management in order to set up the scheme under the law.

"What is left, is for the government to advise the Controller and Accountant General's Department to direct all deductions of GES workers into the accounts of the scheme for proper management", Mr. Addai-Poku intimated.

The teachers said Government has refused to remit the accounts of the scheme money deducted from teachers over the past four years, noting that members, who will be retiring under the new pension scheme, next year, will be affected by the feet dragging attitude of government.

"They (retiring teachers) stand to lose a lot since their contribution has not been professionally handled and invested in the appropriate portfolio", he indicated.

The Graduate teachers said government’s “three months arrears payment policy” is fraught with errors and asked that its implementation should be suspended.

"In December 2013, the Ministry of Finance came out with a directive that any arrears that go beyond three months would not be paid by government. After careful examination, teacher unions detected a lot of flaws in the directives.

"NAGRAT demands that the implementation of that policy should be put on hold since it is unduly affecting teachers negatively", NAGRAT president noted.

NAGRAT also accused Education Minister Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang of implementing anti-teacher policies.

"Teachers are highly disappointed in the number of anti-teacher policies being pursued by the current minister of education", Mr. Addai-Poku asserted.

The teachers said since the minister was appointed, teachers have not seen any teacher-friendly policy pursued by the ministry.