The strikes followed attempts by the government to improve the salaries of public workers through a policy intended to bridge the gap between people with the same qualifications.
Unfortunately the policy, called the Single Spine Salary Structure, has created more problems than it has solved for the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, or FWSC, which was established to implement it.
Worried about feet-dragging to put them on the correct salary structure, members of the Tamale-based University for Development Studies’ branch of the Ghana University Administrators Association, or GUAA, issued a statement calling on the commission to place them on an equal market premium as their academic colleagues.
What is at stake is differences in the salaries of administrative and academic staff.
Administrators said senior members of public universities in both administrative and professional categories had had equal treatment in terms of salaries since the introduction of higher education in Ghana. But the FWSC had split the terms and conditions under the new salary structure that it is trying to implement.
Until the introduction of the new structure, the minimum entry requirement for all senior administrative and professional staff was a masters degree or a professional qualification. This was in line with senior academics, the statement said. “A PhD is only an advantage.”
Currently, the administrators pointed out in the statement, only 47% of senior academics at the University of Ghana have a PhD, and the figure at their university was 21%. “All others have masters degrees, like their administrative and professional counterparts.”
FWSC does not seem to be prepared to listen to the striking administrators. Its head of public affairs, Earl Ankrah, said the commission would not be able to meet the demands of university administrators. It could only make offers based on the finances available.
“We make offers according to what mandate is available to us. We’ve made it to a point where we think we can’t go any further and it’s as simple as that,” he said. “Administrators are encouraged to take it in good faith and give their services to the people of Ghana.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Ghana Students, or NUGS, has blamed the strike on the National Labour Commission, which it said had failed to make officials of GUAA realise early on that their strike was illegal because the administrators’ union itself is illegal under the Labour Act 651 of 2003.
The student body said that GAUA resuming its strike was “the result of inaction” on the part of the labour commission, which was “refusing to live up to its responsibilities”.
“The students of Ghana have gone through enough punishment this year and need not have to suffer again for someone else’s inaction,” the union said in a statement.
The strike is likely to affect the admission of students for the next academic year. In addition, some students believe that their academic work has already been affected. Further, students said the industrial action was delaying attestation letters, certificates, transcripts and general documents that affect students’ lives.
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