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Regional News Mon, 19 May 2014

Brong-Ahafo NAGRAT on strike

The Brong Ahafo Regional branch of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) at the weekend declared a seven-day strike to back their demands.

Mr. Jacob Anaba, Regional Chairman of NAGRAT said at a news conference in Sunyani that the non- commitment by government to use dialogue to resolve the concerns of members had necessitated the strike.

Mr. Anaba outlined some of their concerns as poor handling of the Second Tier Pension Scheme of Ghana Education Service (GES) workers.

He explained that the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) which was handling the pension fund of GES workers was not a Fund Manager, adding that its core mandate was to regulate the pension scheme.

NPRA has no business arrogating to itself the work of pension fund managers and invest workers' money in cheap investment portfolios, Mr. Anaba said.

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He said the attitude of the NPRA and government has dire consequences as those due to retire next year under the new scheme stand to lose most of their contributions.

Another concern raised by the teachers was the three-month arrears payment policy, a directive issued by the Ministry of Finance which stated that arrears that went beyond three months would not be paid by government.

Mr. Anaba explained that, the implication of the directive meant newly recruited teachers who work for a year without salary would be paid only the first three months of their arrears and the rest forfeited.

He said teachers whose promotions and upgrading delayed through no fault of theirs would be paid only three months no matter how long the processing of their document took.

Mr. Anaba, therefore, appealed to the GES to adhere to rules and regulations governing the staff rationalisation exercise, saying that transferring teachers without a guarantee of their transfer grants was an infringement on their rights.

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He noted that massive transfer of teachers without adherence to laid down procedures and formalities leaves the decision on whom to be transferred at the discretion of headmasters and municipal/district directors.

He called on GES and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to iron out all administrative and bureaucratic bottle-necks to avoid undue delay to ensure speedy processing of documents and validation of inputs.

Other issues raised by NAGRAT was taking away of tax exemption on cars imported by teachers and allowances for teachers in colleges of education and the unsupportive nature of GES Management in matters of teachers’ concern.

Source: GNA