The National Labour Commission (NLC), Tuesday, urged the leadership of the striking Ghana Education Service (GES) unions to direct their members to immediately resume work because they failed to follow the due process in declaring the nationwide action.
The Executive Secretary, Mr Ofosu Asamoah, who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, said should this fail; its Legal Department would enforce the Labour Law to ensure their return to work.
He said the Unions contravened the provisions of the Labour Act (Section 159), which mandated a party in a dispute under arbitration to serve a written notice to the other party and the Labour Commission before it embarks on a strike or a lock out.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT); National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT); and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Association (CCTA) called the indefinite strike, effective Monday, December 9, to back home their demand for the payment of the legacy arrears to all of its beneficiary members.
The legacy arrears relates to unpaid salary arrears from 2012 to 2016, which originally affected 120,232 teachers.
But the GES has said as at end of September 2019, it had paid 87,556 beneficiaries, whose claims it had vetted and approved.
It was still, however, in the process of cleaning up some anomalies it detected in the rest, in addition to those of an additional set of data covering 1,847 beneficiaries, which was submitted to it by the Internal audit Department of the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department on November 9, 2019.
The GES said it was working to clear the arrears by the Christmas break.
But the Unions said the affected members were not to blame for the anomalies, and should, therefore, be paid immediately, as they had waited for too long and their patience had run out.
They would, therefore, not return to the classrooms until the last of the beneficiaries had been paid.
Meanwhile, the NLC in a statement issued, and signed by its chairman, Mr Andy Kwabena Asamoah, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, stated that: “The National Association of Graduate Teachers; Ghana National Association of Teachers; and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers failed to notify the NLC and its employer of the ongoing nationwide strike in contravention of section 159 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651.
“That, the Commission in exercise of the authority conferred on it by Section 139 (1) (b) of Act 651, finds the Associations’ action in violation of Act 651 and, therefore, the ongoing strike of the unions is illegal.
“That the teacher unions call of the strike immediately and return to work”.
The NLC said it met with the representatives of the GES, Ministry of Education and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission on the matter, on Tuesday, December 10.However, the leadership of the Unions were absent at the meeting.
The GNA learnt that the Commission was informed by a letter that all the executives of the Unions were all out of the jurisdiction.The GES reported the Unions to the Commission, the GNA learnt yesterday.
The Unions also reportedly failed to attend a meeting with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations; and representatives of the Finance Ministry and the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
The meeting was supposed to be a follow up to one held by the parties on Monday, which ended inconclusively.