The Senior Staff Association of universities in Ghana and the Federation of Universities Senior Staff Association of Ghana (FUSSAG) have declared an indefinite nationwide strike to demand better conditions of service and pension.
The National Chairman of the association, Isaac Donkoh, who signed and issued a press statement indicated the decision was occasioned by the government’s inability to address issues of the welfare of university senior staff, particularly concerning critical issues of pensions and condition of service as contained in the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).
The strike started Wednesday, January 17, 2024.
He disclosed that the government upon countless pleas had failed to release the Tier-2 Pension contributions to the Board of Trustee for effective investment management in accordance with the Pension Act and also the immediate reversal of the illegal cancellation of their overtime allowance which was in sharp contravention to the agreed condition of service signed between them and the Government.
All efforts to get the government to release the pension funds and restore the overtime allowance had proved futile, hence the decision to embark on an indefinite strike.
Meanwhile, the Labour Commission upon notice of the industrial action has requested parties such as the Ministers of Education, Employment and Labour Relations, the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the Director-General of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority, the Chairman of Vice-Chancellors Ghana and the National Chairman of SSA-UoG for meeting tomorrow, Thursday, January 18, 2024, for a hearing of the issues in dispute.
Mr Donkoh indicated that the government between 2010 and 2016 failed to pay their pension contribution on time and further avoided paying the mandated three per cent penalty on the amount owed “and subsequently used simple interest rates as against compound interest rates, resulting in a significant loss of value of funds to our members”.
The government’s actions have had implications for them, particularly for retirees from 2020 to 2023, who had been denied their rightful lump sums, and were currently facing abject poverty and illness in their twilight years, he said.
“Additionally, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) directed university managements to cut off overtime allowance for weekend and holiday work, creating uncertainty and hardship for dedicated staff. This unilateral alteration of established Condition of Service contravenes the Labour Act as established,” the statement further indicated.
The associations are, therefore, demanding the payment of all outstanding debt/pension contributions together with the appropriate interest from March to December 2023, using the three per cent penalty rates as stipulated in Section 64 of the Pensions Act, 2010 (Act 766).
The government they said should prioritise the recalculation of accrued interest on Tier-2 pensions for 2010-2016, as agreed upon in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed on July 25, 2022, and pay all outstanding arrears to retirees without further delay.
They are also calling for the immediate withdrawal of the FWSC and GTEC letters dated November 7 and 20, 2023 eliminating overtime allowance for senior staff and maintaining the existing Collective Agreement to re-establish the industrial harmony between the associations and government.