Management of the Ghana Education Service(GES) has urged teachers to go to school while it works to pay deserving staff their legacy areas by the Christmas week.
This follows a declaration by three teacher unions in the country to strike on Monday, in demand of legacy arrears owed them.
A release signed by Professor (Prof) Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, Director General of the GES and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said since 2017, the government has taken deliberate steps to pay off arrears.
“It is significant to note that as of September 2019, about 87,556 staff of GES have been paid their full salary arrears, representing 95 per cent of total staff validated for payment,” the release said.
It said on 9th November 2019, Management of the GES received another set of data from the Controller & Accountant-General covering 1,847 personnel who were to be paid the salary arrears.
The release said close examination of the data revealed a number of anomalies which would have caused an excess payment of about GHC 11,300,376.
“Some of the personnel were to be paid on underserved ranks, while some of the names had no personal records on the GES payroll from 2012 to 2014 to establish that they could be owed salary arrears over that period,” the release said.
It said some of the listed personnel were not owed any salary arrears and yet had been credited with huge sums of money and in some cases, up to 58,000 cedis.
“Some female personnel were to be paid Night Watchmen Allowances when they have never been Night watchmen within the GES, and some staff who were owed about six months had been credited for only two months,” said the release.
It said on the basis of this, Management directed that the data be audited to verify the genuineness of the payments, in order to ensure that only deserving staff were paid the right amounts of money due them adding that the unions were duly informed of the directive.
The release said on Friday, November 29th, 2019, Management received a letter from the unions, indicating that if the monies were not paid by Thursday December 5th, 2019, they(the unions) would advise themselves.
It said management was also made to understand that they had earlier walked out of a meeting with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations over the same subject.
Management invited the unions to a meeting on Monday December 2nd, 2019, and at the meeting, one of the issues discussed was the payment of the legacy arrears, the release said.
It said the unions were fully represented by their leadership at the meeting, where the management of the GES and the unions agreed that the data should be vetted, and only those eligible for payment should be paid with the right amounts.
The release said all efforts were to be made to finish the vetting and also have personnel involved paid the right amounts by Christmas.
It said the meeting also agreed that the earlier indicated deadline of December 5 was not realistic.
“It is with utmost shock that management has learnt of the purported declaration of the strike and management states, that the conduct of the union leaders is grossly an abuse of the principle of good faith and good working relations established and nurtured over the years,” the release said.
The release said it was wrong to dissipate public funds to undeserved persons, adding that efforts were being made to clean the data in order to ensure, that only deserving persons were paid by the Christmas break, as agreed with the union leaders at the meeting on December 2nd, 2019.
“Management wishes to indicate that the strike cannot be legitimate, especially of personnel who are not owed any arrears of salary, and calls on all to remain calm and go about their duties while efforts are made to effect payment to deserving staff as soon as possible,” it said.
The arrears known as the ‘’legacy arrears’’ relate to outstanding salary arrears between 2012 and 2016 and affected about One Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Two Hundred and Thirty-Two (120,232) staff of GES, the release said.
It said the arrears was as a result of the policy by the then government which allowed the payment of three (3) months of salary arrears owed any employee in the Public Service.
All other arrears were to be justified and validated by the Audit Service before payment, the release said.
Three teacher unions which are the Ghana National Association of Teachers, the national Association of Graduate Teachers and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, have declared a nation-wide strike over what they termed, legacy arrears owed them.