The strike action directed by teacher unions to their members over salary arrears which were not generated by the current government has entered a second day despite calls to return to the classrooms.
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has described the strike action by the teachers as illegal and a clear case of betrayal, urging the teacher unions to rescind their decision and rather adhere to the agreed principles to resolve the case.
According to the GES, it has been in constant negotiations with the teacher unions for sometime now to help address salary arrears of some teachers which were accumulated from 2012 to 2016 when Mr. Mahama and his NDC administration were in power.
The teacher unions last week asked their members to stay away from school because, according to them, salary arrears between 2012 and 2016 are still outstanding.
The Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, said the data of the supposed teachers, whose arrears have not been paid, was full of inconsistencies and clear errors.
He said on December 2, 2019, during a meeting between the GES and the teacher unions, it was unanimously agreed that all the anomalies in the data should be rectified before payment was made by Christmas.
The GES said it was, therefore, shocked to learn three days later that the same teachers unions had made a sharp U-turn and declared their intention to embark on a strike action on December 9, 2019, which is unjustifiable.
“At the meeting, management of the GES and the unions agreed that the data should be vetted and only those eligible for payment should be paid the right amounts,” the GES Director General pointed out.
“We also agreed that all efforts were to be made to finish the vetting and the personnel involved paid the right amounts by Christmas. We also agreed that the earlier indicated deadline of December 5, 2019 cannot be realistic,” he added.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said initially the number of GES staff on the legacy arrears from 2012 to 2016 was 120,232 and out of that 87,556, representing 95 per cent have their salary arrears paid in full after a critical look to establish who really deserved to be paid arrears.
He said efforts were being made to settle the remaining few number of teachers, who are owed, on November 9, 2019 when the GES received another set of data from the Controller and Accountant General, covering 1,847 personnel, who were to be paid salary arrears.
He said the new set of data was critically examined and it became clear that the payment would have led to an excess payment of GH¢11,300,376, adding that some of the names had no personal records with the GES from 2012 to 2014, among other anomalies.
He indicated that it is the view of GES management that public funds cannot be dissipated to underserved persons and is working hard to clean the data to ensure that only qualified persons are paid “by the Christmas break as agreed with the union leaders during a meeting on December 2, 2019.”
“Management wishes to indicate that the strike action cannot be legitimate, especially of personnel, who are not owed any arrears of salary,” he said, urging teachers to remain calm and go about their normal duties as efforts are being made to effect the payment to only deserving staff soon.