The Eastern Region branch of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has joined calls for a nationwide strike over failure on the part of the government to pay teachers a 20% cost of living allowance (COLA).
Addressing the media in Koforidua on Friday, the Eastern Regional Chairman of NAGRAT Godwin Awoonor -Yevu said teachers in Ghana are virtually living on “life support ” as a result of the unbearable hardship as the “cost of living in Ghana today is rising with the speed of light which has and continue to affect the livelihood of our members who are sacrificing to build this nation ”
He explained further that “prices of fuel, goods, and services continue to rise, the introduction of new taxes had worsened the already bad situation, yet the teacher’s salary remains the same. Between January and now, fuel prices have increased by over 50%”
Goodwin Awoonor -Yevu stated that the government’s failure to listen to Labour Unions’ call for 20% COLA to cushion public service workers since 2021 has brought the teacher union to its wit’s end.
“We can no longer bear the pain. We, therefore, demand of our national leadership that ” if at the end of June 2022, our COLA is not heeded to, they have no option than to pay heed to clarion calls of our members to lay down our tools.“
He said members of the association will abandon the students preparing to write the 2022 West Africa Secondary Schools Certificate Examination (WASSCE) regardless of the negative implication if the intended strike action happens.
He, therefore, admonished parents, guardians, and all stakeholders to join NAGRAT and pile pressure on the government to pay the COLA for the teachers.
He said the association will not listen to anybody to call off the strike after declaring the strike action.
“The children (WASCE Students ) we consider their plight. As teachers, we took them from form one up to form three, and up to now as far as the government has not listened, and if that will be the case we want the government to look up to the WASSCE students and then listen to our call and then give us what we need so that we the teachers we can avoid laying down out tools. If it does at the end of this month, we will not listen to anybody irrespective of the WASSCE students who will be writing their exams we will continue to lay down our tools until the government listens”
Mr Awoonor -Yevu explained that the teaching profession is experiencing an unprecedented attrition rate due to poor conditions of service which continue to deteriorate.
“A lot of teachers have left the profession but those of us who are committed to teaching that we want to build our children so that they will also come up and take different professional status they deem it fit that is why we are calling on the government to listen to teachers and give us what is due us.
Some of the Zonal Chairmen of NAGRAT who spoke to Starr News said, they are reeling under serious challenges as a result of the free Senior High School policy.
“When you are a housemaster or HOD, all year round you will be working without even responsibility allowance. The form ones will be living while the form twos Will come. The form threes are already in school and some headmasters are saying that you to teach all the tracks so there is no time that the teacher can have a rest and it affecting even the health of teachers and if you don’t come to school for one or two days you will be queried.
All these things are affecting teachers and even affecting the quality of teaching so we are begging the government to listen to us so that there will be a relief for the teachers so that we can also dive out our hearts and work. We are unable to fulfil our responsibilities in homes,” said Kwakye Seth, Asamankese Zonal Chairman of NAGRAT.
The Koforidua Zonal Chairman of NAGRAT, Boakye Acheampong lamented to Starr News that “Most of us we don’t have accommodations on campus. we have to commute from far and near to the Schools and now we cannot buy fuel. You buy Ghc100 it is just for a day if you multiply Ghc100 by 30 days it is about Ghc3000 but my salary is not up to ghc3000 and my fuel alone is Ghc3000 how do I survive.
So what we are saying is that we have been talking and talking and talking. I want my information to get to the general public. Now that we are making the noise, nobody seems to be listening to us to tell the government this is what the teachers are saying so do something as soon as we strike then they come and tell us we are insensitive”.