The Catholic Bishops’ Conference is appealing to striking Polytechnic Teachers to reconsider their decision and return to the classrooms.
The Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) embarked on strike in May this year over their book and research allowances and have failed to come to an agreement with Government after several negotiations.
The government last week announced that salaries of striking lecturers would not be paid for the period that they have been on strike.
The President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu in a statement issued Monday passionately appealed to POTAG to resume academic work while negotiations with government continues.
“The best option now is to pursue the path of dialogue and negotiations and while the dialogue and negotiations are on-going, we passionately appeal to POTAG in the name of God to consider a quick return to the classroom to enable academic work to resume.”
The statement also called on the government “to do all in its power to ensure that the situation is resolved without any further delay.”
Below is the full statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
PRESS STATEMENT BY GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ APPEAL TO POLYTECHNIC TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (POTAG)
We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have followed the situation of strike action on the campuses of our polytechnics with concern and worry and have come to the firm decision that it is time for us to make a passionate appeal to the leadership and membership of POTAG to reconsider their position and return to the classroom. We are making this appeal on behalf of the students and their sponsors, parents and guardians, who have been at the receiving end of the over three-month long strike action of POTAG and have had to endure the burden of not knowing what to do with the situation for the past months.
Dialogue and Negotiations should continue
We know that it is naturally not in the interest of teachers to undertake strike action but sometimes they resort to such actions to press home their demands. We also believe that it is not the wish of any government that workers and for that matter, teachers go on strike when pressing home their demands. This only goes to affirm the position that it is not in the best interest of anyone to embark on strike actions for whatever reason. Therefore, we believe that as much as possible, strike actions should be avoided.
In the present case of the strike action by POTAG, we are worried that students could not write their end of year exams and are currently stranded as to when their lecturers will return to the classrooms to enable them do so. We are equally concerned about those whose theses could not be supervised for them to complete their courses to enable them start work. Clearly, it is our students who are bearing the brunt of the present strike action by our Polytechnic teachers and the failure of government to help resolve this situation speedily and amicably.
We call on the Government and members of POTAG as well as other institutions such as the National Labour Commission, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and others that have a stake in helping to resolve this matter to continue to sit at the negotiation table and remain there till the matter is resolved.
It will not pay to continue to hold on to entrenched positions or to issue threats to one another since doing these will only result in the continued delay in the re-opening of schools. It is equally not in our best interest to make unguarded statements on the matter since doing so does not inure to the benefit of dialogue and negotiations but only exacerbate the matter.
We think that the best option now is to pursue the path of dialogue and negotiations and while the dialogue and negotiations are on-going, we passionately appeal to POTAG in the name of God to consider a quick return to the classroom to enable academic work to resume. We also appeal to the Government to do all in its power to ensure that the situation is resolved without any further delay.
As religious leaders, we remain committed to the welfare of our country and all its citizens and will play our role to ensure that all our citizens get what is due them. We are ready to offer any assistance that will lead to the speedy resolution of the present impasse and we pledge our support and prayers towards the speedy resolution of this matter.
May God continue to bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong!
MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU
BISHOP OF KONONO-MAMPONG &
PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE