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Public sector strike hits schools, but hospitals working

The indefinite strike declared by a number of labour unions began yesterday, with public sector schools being the worst affected. Although most ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) were open for official business due to the late announcement of the strike, a number of public schools were closed.
Background

A number of labour unions embarked on an indefinite strike from yesterday to back their demand for the government to allow them to manage tier two of their pension scheme.

According to them, they would rescind their decision only if the government released the money that had accrued from their tier two pension funds into their various schemes.

They insisted that they had formed their own pension schemes to manage their funds.

The groups had, earlier on June 30, 2014, given the government up to July 14, 2014 to transfer their second-tier pension funds to their preferred fund managers or face their wrath.

“We refuse to remain unconcerned when it is obvious that the government’s actions and inaction in the implementation of the Mandatory Occupational Pension Scheme point to the eventual collapse of the three-tier pension scheme,” they stated.

According to the groups, they would use every means possible to resist all attempts by the government to appoint the Pensions Alliance Trust (PAT) Limited as a sole trust to manage their second tier pension funds.
Accra

Seth J. Bokpe reports that the first day of the industrial action failed to bite hard on government business, as most public sector workers turned up for work.

During a visit to the MDAs, the courts and hospitals, workers were seen at work, in spite of the strike.

But in some public senior high schools (SHSs) and junior high schools (JHSs), teachers were present but not teaching.

Some of the employees of the ministries told the Daily Graphic that the leadership of the labour unions failed to communicate the strike to them.

“We know that whatever they are asking us to do is for our benefit, but the thing is they have to communicate it well. As we speak, we don’t know if it is a sit-down strike or a full strike in which we don’t even come to work,” a member of staff of the Health Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

At the Cocoa Affairs Court and the High Courts on the High Street, almost all the courtrooms were busy.

A court clerk said she did not hear of the strike until she arrived at work. She was, however, not sure if she would return to work today.

At the Interior Ministry, a source said the ministry had a policy for its staff to remain at work during industrial actions because the ministry was “the supervising ministry for the security services and could not go on strike. What if something happens?”
Hospitals & schools

At the La General Hospital staff provided services for patients, reports Zainabu Issah.

The situation was not different at the Ridge Hospital in Accra where staff were seen attending to patients.

However, the situation was different in public schools in some parts of Accra.

At the Accra High School, some teachers were teaching, while others were in the assembly hall registering new students.

One of the teachers (name withheld) said some teachers, on reading and hearing about reports of a strike, decided to suspend their services.

Students of the Boundary Road School at Adabraka who were busily chatting on the streets during school hours told this reporter that their teachers were in school but were not teaching.

“They told us that they are on strike an so they are not teaching,” they responded when asked why they were not in the classroom.

At the Lartebiokorshie Presby School at the Town Council Line at Sukura, it was observed that teachers were in the classroom but not teaching.

All basic schools in the Ho municipality were closed, in line with the strike, reports Tim Dzamboe.

It was realised that all schools had closed down and some of the pupils had left for home, while some of them roamed the streets.

The Volta Regional Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Mr Linus Cofie Attey, said the strike was expected to be in full swing in the region today, by which time schools in the remote areas would have joined it.

At the Volta Regional Coordinating Council, some workers had reported to work, but the Volta Regional Secretary of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG), Mr Xornam Victor Kpotoe, said the workers were not supposed to be there.
Koforidua

From Koforidua in the Eastern Region, George Folley reports that public schools were the worst affected by the strike.

Most of the schools visited by the Daily Graphic were closed, with the pupils idling about.

The schools that opened had their teachers not working.

At the Okorase Methodist Primary School and the Presby JHS, teachers refused to teach.

Teachers of the Densuano L/A Primary School reported at school but did not teach. The pupils were told not to come to school until they heard otherwise.

At the Koforidua Regional Hospital, the situation was normal, as nurses, doctors and other paramedics went about their duties.

Interviews conducted indicated that they only got to hear of the strike in the media, as the hospital authorities had not received any letter from organised labour

A top hospital official, who pleaded anonymity, said the strike came as a surprise to them and hoped that the government would meet public sector workers to resolve the issue amicably.
Sekondi/Takoradi

From Sekondi/Takoradi, Moses Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu reports that teachers, doctors and nurses in the various educational and health institutions reported to work yesterday, in spite of the declaration of a strike by public sector workers.

According to them, they were unaware of the action, which was declared in the media.

A visit to the major health facilities saw nurses and other workers at post busily attending to patients.

At the schools visited across the metropolis, teachers were at post attending to schoolchildren.

Some of the teachers, who pleaded anonymity, indicated that the timing was wrong and that it was wrong for the organisers to have used the mass media for the dissemination of information on the strike.
Kumasi

Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor reports from Kumasi that the idea of a strike was not bought into by most workers in the metropolis.

While teachers seemed to heed to the call, health workers and staff of the Judicial Service seemed to be unaware of it.

A visit to the ministries revealed that most offices were open and conducting business as usual.

The situation was not different at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where most workers were at post, claiming that they were not aware of the strike.

At the court complex, one member of staff who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said they did not hear any news on the pending strike and only learnt of it in the media.

“If we receive information from our leaders, we will also join the strike,” he said.
Wa

Members of the various labour unions in the Upper West Region remained at post, in spite of the nationwide industrial action intended to start yesterday, reports Michael Quaye.

Teachers of both basic and high schools said they were yet to receive official communication on the strike, hence their presence in school.

The Upper West Regional Directorate of the Ghana Education Service was, however, virtually deserted, with the offices closed, as staff ha embarked on strike.

A member of staff of the directorate who spoke on condition of anonymity said the deserted offices were as a result of the nationwide strike earlier announced by the leadership of organised during the week.

At the Upper West Regional Hospital, the few staff were fully at post, their scanty number always resembling a striking team as usual.

The teaching staff were all at post at the Wa Senior High Technical School, with most of the non-teaching staff absent on account of the strike.

Later yesterday, GNAT sent a circular informing its membership about the strike.

Source: Graphic

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