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NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION

In case of reply the


(NCTE) P. O. Box MB 28
number and date of Accra – Ghana
this letter be quoted
My Ref. No.
Your Ref.

REPUBLIC OF GHANA

January 8, 2019
TO ALL MEDIA HOUSES

Dear Sir/Madam,

STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION


(NCTE) ON THE DECLARATION OF INDEFINITE STRIKE ACTION BY THE
TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (TUTAG)

It is with deep regret and frustration that the National Council for Tertiary Education
(NCTE) has to issue a statement to address yet another declaration of strike action by the
Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG). Even though we have
not received any official notice to that effect, we have learnt from the press statement and
other media engagements that the strike action is intended to “force Government to
implement the National Labour Commission (NLC) Ruling”, based on the allegation that
“Government has ignored the ruling and is using NCTE to put an impediment on the way of
implementation..”. This allegation is most unfortunate as it is far from the truth.

To start with, we wish to make it categorically clear, that neither the NCTE nor any
member of the Government’s side that has been dealing with TUTAG on this whole issue
of allowances, as far as we know, has ignored the NLC ruling. To claim also that the
NCTE is being used by Government to create impediments in the way of payment of the
allowances is to attempt to smear Government’s unflinching commitment to the Technical
Universities and also fail to appreciate the statutory role of the NCTE in such an exercise.

For avoidance of doubt, it needs to be understood that the NCTE on its own does not pay;
does not decide who is to be paid or how much the person is to be paid. That determination
is made between the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Ministry of
Finance and payment is effected by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department
(CAGD). NCTE’s current role in such processes is to provide technical input and advice
in related deliberations and once decisions have been made and approvals given, to ensure,
as supervisors of the Tertiary Education sub-Sector, that requests for payments are
consistent with approvals given before they are forwarded for necessary action. It is
therefore puzzling to imagine how the NCTE could become the sole impediment in the
payment of allowances to TU staff, as alleged.

At the heart of the current agitations are two sets of allowances; Allowances, such as
Responsibility and Entertainment for office holders and various others, including Vehicle
Maintenance, Fuel, Rent and Owner-Occupier, among others for stated categories of staff.

Office Location: East Legon—Trinity—IPS Road (Lagos Avenue); Adjacent Chartered Institute of Bankers Ghana, Accra - Ghana
Tel: +233-302-918790 +233-20-9989414 +233-20-9989413
E-mail: info@ncte.edu.gh
Under pressure to expedite action on the migration of Technical Universities onto the Public
Universities Payroll, the Controller and Accountant General paid the Technical Universities
salaries and Interim Market Premium at the rate approved for all public Universities, as the first step,
at the end of September 2019, but effective August 2019, admittedly, without the allowances.
Considering that both sets of allowances (for office holders and other staff) needed prior
validation to confirm entitled beneficiaries as a requirement of due process, it was decided to
tackle them in the next step, after demonstrating the commitment to the full migration by paying
the market premium. The other reason was to enable FWSC to carry out an outstanding
rationalization of the Responsibility and Entertainment Allowances for office holders across all
public Universities.

Unfortunately, notwithstanding the fact that the rationale for paying the salaries and Interim
Market Premium first was known to TUTAG, they still declared strike action in protest on
October 7, 2019. On October 17, 2019, a meeting was convened at the instance of the Ministry
of Employment and Labor Relations (MELR) and this involved all the parties on the
Government’s side and TUTAG. The purpose, among others, was to reiterate the rationale for
the payment and assure commitment to addressing any matters arising, and with the
reassurance, to get TUTAG to call off the strike and cooperate with the administrative processes
for the payments to be processed. This meeting affirmed August 2019 as the effective date for
payment of the allowances. Unfortunately, however, the meeting did not succeed in persuading
TUTAG to call off the strike. At this (October 17) meeting, at least one Vice-Chancellor of a
Technical University was present, and the Government’s side made it clear to TUTAG that the
allowances could only be paid after the data on entitled holders had been submitted through
NCTE for verification and onward transmission to CAGD.

For some unknown reason TUTAG members were very vocal at resisting any suggestion to
submit the data for verification, arguing that CAGD already had the data based on the
Polytechnic Payroll. Three significant points made by the Government’s side to buttress the need
for the verification still failed to make an impression on TUTAG. First, it was explained that
this was a requirement of the due process and could not be side-stepped. Secondly, and especially
so, that the staff were being migrated onto a new payroll, that made the need for validation
particularly pertinent. Thirdly, key new appointments had been done for office holders and some
staff had been re-designated as a result of the earlier staff audit; and given time, the status and
eligibility of staff for various allowances could have changed.

Subsequently, the impasse continued without the submission of the required data until the
National Labour Commission (NLC) summoned all parties on October 28, 2019. True, the NLC
ruled that the Technical University Teachers (Staff!) should be paid the same allowances as
applicable in the traditional public Universities by December 2019 and any arrears arising paid
in January and February 2020 respectively. It is worth noting that the ruling resulted in
reaffirmation of Government’s longstanding objective as previously communicated by the
NCTE on different occasions, to ensure “parity of prestige” between the traditional public
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Universities and the Technical Universities. This had always been the underlying principle
driving the conversion of the Technical Universities from Polytechnics.

In other words, long before the NLC ruling, we had stated and severally reiterated our resolve
to ensure that the Technical Universities are set-up on the same quality standards as the
traditional public Universities, albeit with a unique niche mandate. It is on the basis of the
desired equivalent standards that Government committed to extending same general conditions
of service, including compensation to staff of the Technical Universities. It would be completely
counterintuitive therefore to suggest, as TUTAG has sought to do, that Government is reluctant
or has refused to implement the NLC ruling, which in effect reaffirmed what was already prior
approved policy.

Following the ruling, the Government team, led by FWSC and the Ministry of Finance went to
work to first finalize the rationalization of the Responsibility and Entertainment Allowance for
implementation in all public universities without exception. This was because Government had
long before flagged the rates of these allowances that were being paid in the traditional
universities as lacking appropriate approvals. The rates had been put together as “harmonized
allowances” by Vice-Chancellors Ghana (VCG) and “approved” by the various Governing
Councils for implementation based on ability to pay from Internally Generated Funds (IGF).
TUTAG had also made the extension of these same allowances to them, on the basis of rates
paid by the University for Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), the centerpiece of their case at
NLC.

After the rationalization had been done and immediately approval of the framework was
communicated by the Ministry of Finance, the NCTE reached out to the Technical Universities
to request the appropriate data for processing of the allowances for office holders. Even though
the deadline given was Monday December 16, 2019, it was not until Friday December 20, 2019
that the last submission was received. Nevertheless, the required due diligence was done and the
validated data for all 8 Technical Universities submitted on Monday December 23, 2019 to
CAGD for payment. We are happy to confirm that the payments to the validated office holders
have since been duly made. Much earlier in August, and for the first time, Book and Research
Allowances had also been paid to entitled TU staff at same rates for public Universities. The
commitment of the Government side to the “parity of prestige” principle cannot therefore be
faulted. The only caveat is that everything has to be subject to the required due process.

After verification and forwarding of the office holders’ data for payment, NCTE wrote to the
Technical Universities reiterating that the data for other staff allowances were still outstanding.
It may be recalled that the need for submission of the data was first impressed upon TUTAG in
October 2019. In the NCTE letter the deadline for submission of the data was stated as January
8, 2020. It is this letter that, ostensibly, is being mischievously interpreted as Government
“buying time” on the NLC ruling using the NCTE. TUTAG has also created the erroneous

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impression as if this request had suddenly appeared out of the blue without just cause and in
gross violation of the NLC ruling.

Unfortunately what TUTAG has not admitted is that, perhaps the ONLY reason these
allowances remain unpaid to the rank and file of their membership to date, since last October,
is their rather strange and persistent refusal to agree to the submission of the required data for
vetting. TUTAG still insists, in spite of all the reasons to justify to the contrary, that it is
unnecessary to submit the data because the CAGD already has it. The CAGD, on the other
hand, as far as we know, are waiting for the data to be submitted through the NCTE. In fact, as
late as last Monday, January 6, 2020 when all the parties (without TUTAG!) met under the
auspices of the MELR, the CAGD confirmed that they did not have any credible data on the
basis of which they could make any such payments.

Significantly, TUTAG had been invited to this meeting, but they declined to attend at the last
minute only for us to hear, while still at the meeting, that they had declared immediate and
indefinite strike action at the non-payment of the allowances as directed by the NLC. Present at
the meeting were two Vice Chancellors of Technical Universities, one of whom confirmed from
his notes that the October 17, 2019 meeting did indeed highlight the need for the data to be
submitted through the NCTE to CAGD for payment. And yet, in spite of all the foregoing we
are stuck in this bizarre fix where TUTAG is on strike at the time when some examinations are
just about to start, apparently because of the non-payment of allowances whose due process
prerequisites they have refused to fulfil.

On behalf of the Government side, I wish to reiterate that we have had no intention whatsoever
to ignore the NLC ruling. On the contrary, the NLC ruling was consistent with existing policy
and we had looked forward to and employed our best endeavours to comply with it. We also
believe that the ruling did not obviate the need for any required due diligence. Unfortunately,
the lack of cooperation by TUTAG has brought us to this point.

Finally, for avoidance of doubt, we want the rank and file of TUTAG members and the general
public to understand that Government remains resolutely committed to the cause of the
Technical Universities and the broader Technical and Vocational Education and Training
(TVET) reform agenda and will not do anything that will undermine it. Indeed, huge
commitments have already been made in facilities and infrastructure and more are planned in
the future to make sure the TUs are fit for purpose. On the staff front, we can only crave the
indulgence of the unions to cooperate with the appropriate administrative processes while we
work towards securing the best interest of everyone.

ISSUED THIS WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2020

Signed

Executive Secretary
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