By Ohemeng Tawiah – Thousands of teachers in Ghana have been demonstrating in protest against what they see as appalling discrepancies in their salaries following their migration onto a new salary structure, the Single Spine Salary Structure.
The teachers started raising red flags after they visited the banks across the country to withdraw their first salary which begins on March 1. But their high expectations of receiving fat salaries were cut shot despite been migrated onto the single spine pay platform.
The Fair Wages and Salary Commission, the office responsible for calculating and determining salaries of government employees had earlier promised lives of teachers would be improved when migrated on the new salary structure.
But teachers say their salaries have been reviewed downwards with the introduction of the new pay policy, with some loosing substantial amounts.
A group of disgruntled teachers at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region demonstrated against Government and vowed not to participate in the celebration of this year’s Independence Day, even on 6th March when school pupils are expected to march past the national colours. Other teachers at Nkoranza, Berekum and others also demonstrated.
In Kumasi, in the middle belt of Ghana, the protest was so intense that thousands of teachers gathered despite given short notices to demonstrate.
Clad in red attire and arm bands, the teachers held placards which some reads, ‘‘ Single Spine Salary is Killer structure, ‘’President Mills has failed us’’, We can’t live in this killer Single Spine etc, the teachers paraded through the principal streets, forcing several classrooms without teachers.
Interestingly, some school children in what appears to be solidarity joined their teachers until they were driven away by the teachers who thought’’ the kids were too young to participate in the march’’.
The teachers declared indefinite strike until government address their concerns, boycotting all national education programs such as supervising and marking BECE and WASSCE exams.
They forced the closure of an independence anniversary rehearsal parade at the Jubilee Park in Kumasi.
Similar protests also took place at Ho, Accra and Brong Ahafo.
Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister Mahama announced a meeting between leadership of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT)and National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and government is scheduled to iron out the discrepancies.
Education Minister Betty Mould Iddrisu and Minister for Employment and Social Welfare, as well as officials from the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission are expected to attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has appealed to all personnel within the Ghana Education Service who have experienced some error in their February salaries to remain calm as it works to rectify the situation. The Chief Executive of the Commission, George Smith-Graham says many of the teachers are agitated because they have misunderstood the entire system.
“The Commission wants to place on record that the implementation of the new pay policy – the Single Spine Pay Policy – will not disadvantage any group of workers in the country.
“No individual should see or will experience a reduction in his or her salary with the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy”.