CETAG Wins Compulsory Arbitration – Dr Samuel Kofi Donkor

In the matter of compulsory arbitration over the dispute of industrial action between Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and Colleges of Education Teachers Association of Ghana (CETAG), the National Labour Commission (NLC) overturned most of the earlier unfavourable decisions taken by the FWSC during negotiation.

1. The government team led by FWSC concluded negotiations on 26th October, 2018 and made final statement of appeal to CETAG to accept “peanut” of about GHC127.000 as Interim Market Premium (IMP). In fact, FWSC proposed reopening of negotiation in first quarter of next year. CETAG described this behaviour as unacceptable and submitted evidence from the minutes of earlier meeting to support its case. In its ruling, NLC directed FWSC to enter into compulsory negotiation with CETAG within 5 days. By this ruling, government’s intention of postponing negotiations to next year has been quashed. The ruling was very satisfactory and acceptable to CETAG.

2. Government team led by FWSC took entrenched position throughout the period of negotiation to give 5% (20% Interim Market Premium, IMP minus 15% Retention Premium, RP) to CETAG members because there was no fiscal space to accommodate legitimate demands of CETAG. The ruling set aside this entrenched position and directed FWSC to negotiate in good faith with CETAG. This ruling was also satisfactory and acceptable to CETAG.

3. During negotiation, FWSC confessed that they did not have mandate from government to negotiate Book and Research Allowance (BRA) with CETAG. The ruling set this pronouncement aside and asked FWSC to negotiate BRA allowance with CETAG and conclude all negotiations within 14 days. In fact, NLC directive is very clear that negotiations must not extend beyond this year. This ruling was also acceptable and in favour of CETAG.

4. In an earlier official letter, FWSC petitioned NLC to pronounce the strike action as illegal. The chief spokesperson for CETAG, Mr. Prince Obeng-Himah quoted from the statutes and submitted documentary evidence from Colleges of Education (CoE) statute that defined numerous job descriptions that included research and publications, community service, consultation etc for CETAG members. CETAG stated clearly that teaching alone did not constitute CETAG’s job description and in deed, other aspects of its job were ongoing despite withdrawal of some services that included teaching. A copy of letter sent to all Principals across the 46 CoE was tendered in as evidence. The letter to the Principals specified withdrawn services and those that were not withdrawn. The ruling of NLC did not describe the strike action as illegal. It is worthy emphasising that in an official letter to NLC, the petitioners (FWSC) prayed the commission to pronounce the strike action by CETAG as illegal but the NLC did not do so in its ruling. CETAG is grateful for this fair decision by NLC.

5. It was observed that the ruling by NLC was silent on frozen November salaries because it was not the bone of contention by petitioners (FWSC). On Thursday, 29th November 2018, FWSC stated categorically that the decision to freeze salaries was not from them. Since partial withdrawal of services could not be described as illegal, CETAG is in talk with its lawyers to see the way forward for payment of November salaries. CETAG intends to go by the ruling of NLC to negotiate a better deal for its members.

Except for salaries, the ruling was largely in favour of CETAG through result oriented partial withdrawal of services where discriminatory salary issues affecting CETAG have been made known to the public.

Admittedly, National Executive Officers (NEO) went through hardships and hell in the one month journey of legitimate demand for IMP and BRA for its members. NEO of CETAG expects encouragement and prayers from its ranks and file as negotiation reopens within 5 working days (not later than Monday, 10th December 2018). Appreciation is extended to all gallant members of CETAG for their support, the battle has been won, injustice and discrimination against the CoE tutor have been publicly exposed. We are hopeful that government will prioritise teacher education and create fiscal space for legitimate demands of CETAG members. Long live CETAG, long live teacher education in Ghana, long live MoE.

(Samuel Kofi Donkor, PhD/National Trustee of CETAG)