Ghana?s minister of education, science and sports, is calling on the national association of graduate teachers (NAGRAT) to resume work. Minister papa Owusu-Ankomah is making the appeal after the teachers embarked on an indefinite strike action that is hampering academic activities in Ghana?s secondary schools. Meanwhile, the Ashanti regional branch of the association has re-affirmed its resolve to continue with the strike action until authorities address their concerns. It appealed to members nationwide not to yield to any form of threat or intimidation by heads of their schools to return to the classroom.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about his call for the teachers to return to the classroom.

?We have two teacher unions in Ghana: the Ghana national association of teachers and National association of graduate teachers (NAGRAT). NAGRAT has embarked on a strike action citing certain grievances; one of the most fundamental of which is that they need improved salaries. Unfortunately, the laws of our country do not permit two unions in the same industry to have two separate bargaining certificate. So I was appealing to the graduate teachers to go to work, while government is negotiating with the Ghana national association of teachers. And I said that, engaging in a strike and then asking for negotiation, is just as if you?ve pointed a gun to someone?s head and asking the person to take a certain decision in respect of something that you?ve proposed to them,? he said.

Owusu-Ankomah said the government has no direct influence on the labor commission, which has the authority to enforce labor laws.

?The labor commission is the statutory body empowered to take action against all persons who are flouting the labor laws of this country. And I believe a formal complaint has been launched with them. And they?ve already written to the teachers (NAGRAT) to stop the strike. As a government, we are also considering steps that we have to take in order to ensure that, the students who are in school have teachers to teach them,? he noted.

He says government is planning to improve upon salaries of not only teachers but also civil servants in the country.

?In fact, government is embarking on a comprehensive review, of salaries of all public sector workers. Because we believe that, once we deal with various groups of workers at certain points in time, we may distort the salary regime in the country. So I have personally appealed to NAGRAT to await the outcome of this comprehensive review. Government will bring salaries to a level that will make the Ghanaian worker more comfortable,? Owusu-Ankomah said.  

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