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Dear Finance Minister, factor poor conditions of UTAG in 2022 budget [Opinion]

An Open Letter to the Finance Minister,

Dear Sir,

  1. As you prepare to read the budget for 2022, I respectfully urge you not to do any such presentation without factoring the poor Conditions of Service of University Teachers. One of the abused refrain used in countering our demands this year, has been the mantra that “we did not factor UTAG demands in the 2021 budget”.

2. Now, sir, you have the opportunity to consider and adequately provide for our needs. Kindly be reminded that, we went on strike this year because, we only wanted government to restore us to the salary values of 2013. As you may be aware, in 2013, the entry point monthly salary of a University Lecturer was a pittance hovering around USD 2,084. In 2021, the same lecturer is paid around USD 997. The demand of lecturers this year, has been a simple restoration of the 2013 salary values.

3. It is my plea that you do not go present eloquent figures for all sectors and forget about the main demand of University Teachers. The MoA signed to increase annual research allowance (not monthly salary) to USD 1600, which works out to about only USD 130 a month top up of our research allowance, has been rejected by UTAG members. Please be reminded that research allowances are not salaries. They are monies to undertake research to discover knowledge to aid teaching. Also, no serious researcher discovers anything with USD 130 a month.

4. Our silence now, is only strategic. We have been concerned about the plight of our students and parents, hence decided not to abandon them mid-stream in the academic year. Now many of them across the country are on vacation and Legon, the Premier University vacates this month. It is our hope that all interventions including adequate budgetary provisions would be made to cater for the very small demands of University Teachers.

5. I respectfully urge you not to go present figures that improve the Conditions of Service of your colleague political appointees and their article 71 office holders and get others to plead with University Teachers to accept to live in poverty and poor Conditions of Service. Sir, it won’t work this time.

6. We will vacate and reopen no more if you treat us with contempt and disrespect once again. Given the increased trust deficit, please be assured that no amount of appeal from whatever quarter would get us to rescind our decision, should we strike again. The last resort may be to get the very moribund National Labor Commission to send us to court again and to seek our imprisonment. People died to build this country for us and we are willing to go to prison just to secure the interest of the future generation of University Teachers.

7. So, sir, by all means, please go ahead and present the budget. But be mindful of the indubitable value of industrial harmony in shaping the success of whatever purpose your budget seeks to achieve.

Many thanks.

A31, Prabiw
P.A.V. Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House

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