UTAG declares indefinite strike from Monday over worsening conditions of service

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Accord ing to UTAG, the strike action is in response to “the worsening Conditions of Service (CoS) of the University Teacher and the failure of the Employer in addressing the plight of UTAG members within the agreed timelines.”

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of UTAG, which directed the withdrawal of services per a communique it issued on Saturday, 8th January, following two emergency meetings, has consequently asked all UTAG members across its 15 branches to observe the directive.

UTAG has been signaling this course of action for some time now and had previously suspended similar strikes after the government intervened and committed to address concerns of poor service conditions and market premium (MP) due university teachers, particularly UTAG members.

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But according to the association, not only has government failed to address the concerns within the agreed timelines, it has also implemented recommendations of a Labour Market Survey (LMS) report in a manner that the association deem meaningless as the implementation is without any accompanying technical report on the implementable market premium and does not address the pertinent issues of improved conditions of service.

The communique announcing the strike and signed by the NEC members, reads in part:

“It may be recalled that the Interim Market Premium (IMP) which was instituted following the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy got frozen, per a Government White Paper, in 2013, for the purpose of the conduct of a LMS to determine a MP payable to workers deserving of it. To date, this determination has not been made, which has resulted in the erosion of the University Teacher’s salary. There was the hope that by completing and implementing the Labour Market Survey (LMS) Report of 2019, a review of the IMP would have put the University Teacher on a relatively good salary stead. Regrettably, the recommendations of the 2019 LMS Report without any accompanying technical report on the implementable MP is meaningless to UTAG as it does not address the pertinent issues of improved CoS.

“Interestingly however, there was a LMS in 2014 whose Report did not see the light of day and one wonders if the 2019 LMS Report would ever be implemented since it is already two years old. In addition, recommendation (iii) from the 2019 LMS Report states that “Public Services Commission should liaise with educational institutions to prioritise the offering of courses in areas of demand to increase the employment prospects of their graduates and increase the pool of applicants for high vacancies.” How can such a National Agenda be attained if the CoS of the University Teacher keeps worsening year on year leading to an ever-increasing attrition rate on our campuses? UTAG members see the timing of the release of the report as one of the usual delay tactics that the Employer has employed over the years, which is unacceptable.

“We must also point out the fact that, generally our members have decried the pittance agreed to be paid as annual research allowance and would want to have government to reconsider the payment of a more realistic research allowance as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.

“For the reasons stated above, the NEC of UTAG at its meeting held on 7th January 2022 reiterated its resolve to follow through with the decision to withdraw teaching and related activities until further notice with effect from Monday, 10th January 2022 and call on all UTAG members across the fifteen (15) branches to observe this directive.

“As a matter of urgency, we also call on the Employer to restore members to the 2013 IMP of 114% of Basic Salary in the interim whilst Government goes ahead to formulate guidelines to implement the appropriate recommendations to address the CoS of the University Teacher.

“Following the uneasiness among UTAG members, any delay by the Employer would further exacerbate the already fragile academic calendar to the detriment of all stakeholders.”

Source: Graphic Online

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