General News of 2014-07-08

Govt does not owe POTAG - Ablakwa stresses

Deputy Minister of Education in charge of tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described as unfair the action by the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) to embark on strike over their book and research allowances.

According to him, government does not owe the polytechnic teachers since the book and research allowances are paid at the end of every academic year.

“Government of Ghana does not owe salaries, does not owe allowances of lecturers. The book and research allowance is paid once a year. Only once a year… So why is it that this year as early as May you declare a strike action for something that is not yet due you,” he said.

POTAG has been on strike since May 15, 2014 demanding the payment of their book and research allowance for the 2013/2014 academic year.

According to POTAG, government’s failure to pay them their allowances constituted a breach of their conditions of service.

However, speaking at a press conference Tuesday morning, the Mr Ablakwa said the standard practice has been that the book and research allowance is paid either in August or September.

“Last year the book and research allowance was paid in September, more specifically 30th September 2013.

“The question to ask is that, is it fair that you are receiving your salaries every month, the book and research allowance payment is not outstanding… By May when they declared this strike, this allowance was not due,” he said.

“I listen to the commentary out there and it is as if government owes and government has not paid. It is not in arrears. The book and research allowance is paid at the end of every year and it has always for more than 30 years been paid at the end of the academic year,” Mr Ablakwa added.

He noted that the Ministry was still in talks with POTAG to call off the strike and reopen negotiations.