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Senior staff of universities threaten to strike over unpaid tier-2 contributions

Senior Staff Association

The Senior Staff Association—Universities of Ghana (SSA-UoG) has urged the government to proceed with clearing Tier-2 contributions of its members, else its members will embark on an industrial action on January 15, 2024. According to the association, the payments in question have been in arrears since February 2023. It emerged at the SSA-UoG’s NEC meeting held at CKT-UTAS in Navrongo that the government has failed to pay the contributions despite an initial agreement.

“Historically, the Government on several occasions has failed to pay contributions on time to the Board of Trustees for effective management. It will be recalled that between 2010 and 2016, the Government deliberately refused to pay members’ Tier-2 contributions. When the leadership of SSA-UoG requested that the Government pays the three percent penalty (in accordance with the Pensions Act) on the amount which could have given us over Two Hundred Million Ghana Cedis, they refused and instead used simple interest rates to calculate which gave us Fifty-One million Ghana Cedis.”

SSA-UoG in a statement demanded that the government to “as a matter of urgency pay all outstanding debt/contributions together with the appropriate interest from February to December 2023 using the three percent penalty rates as stipulated by the Pension’s Act, Act 766, section 64.”

Below is the full statement.

At its 17th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held on 25th November 2023 at CKT-UTAS in Navrongo, it came to the attention of NEC that since February 2023 to date, the Government has refused to pay the Tier-2 Pension contributions of members of the Senior Staff Association of Public Universities of Ghana to the Board of Trustees to manage the funds.

NEC received this news with utter shock and disappointment and quickly wrote to the Government for the immediate release of the funds, but the Government has refused to pay. This is very unfortunate!

Historically, the Government on several occasions has failed to pay contributions on time to the Board of Trustees for effective management. It will be recalled that between 2010 and 2016, the Government deliberately refused to pay members’ Tier-2 contributions. When the leadership of SSA-UoG requested that the Government pays the three percent penalty (in accordance with the Pensions Act) on the amount which could have given us over Two Hundred Million Ghana Cedis, they refused and instead used simple interest rates to calculate which gave us Fifty-One million Ghana Cedis.

Recognizing the significant financial detriment suffered by members as a result of the government’s non-compliance with the Pensions Law (Act 766 Section 64), the labour unions formally rejected the proposed simple interest rate and requested the mandated three percent penalty interest, as stipulated by the act and binding on all employers in Ghana. The government’s subsequent refusal to apply the required interest rate has necessitated the intervention of the National Labour Commission (NLC), where the matter is currently under consideration.

Years of dedicated service have come to nought for our 2020 to 2023 retirees, who have been denied their rightful lump sums and left to face abject poverty and illness in their twilight years.

Their selfless contributions to Ghana deserve better.

The government’s blatant disregard for the welfare of University Senior Staff and their pensioners is undeniable.

University senior staff were dealt a blow when the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) abruptly directed university management to cut off overtime allowance for weekend and holiday work. This unilateral alteration of our established Conditions of Service creates significant uncertainty and hardship for dedicated staff.

We urge our university management to resist these directive letters from FWSC and GTEC, as they contravene the Labour Act and our agreed-upon Conditions of Service.

On June 30, 2023, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) communicated to the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) their determination that senior staff in public universities are entitled to overtime allowance, as per their conditions of service. However, on November 7, 2023, the FWSC issued a contradictory directive, stating that senior staff should not receive overtime. Disregarding both the Labour Act and the established conditions of service, GTEC subsequently instructed public universities to implement the latter directive.

Why is the FWSC making contradictory statements?

The SSA-UoG therefore wishes to state as follows;

  1. Government as a matter of urgency pay all outstanding debt/contributions together with the appropriate interest from February to December 2023 using the three percent penalty rates as stipulated by the Pension’s Act, Act 766 section 64.
  2. The government must urgently prioritize 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 in accordance with the Pensions Act. This issue requires immediate attention to ensure its resolution.
  3. All outstanding arrears must be paid to our retirees without delay.
  4. We demand the immediate withdrawal of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) letters dated November 7 and 20, 2023, respectively, which illegally eliminate overtime allowance for senior staff.

Upholding the existing Collective Agreement between labour and government is paramount.

Should the government and its relevant agencies, namely the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ghana Pensions Regulatory Authority, Ministry of Finance, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, and Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, fail to address the concerns outlined in this press release by Monday, January 15th, 2024, the Union will be forced to withdraw our services across all university campuses.

By: Kabah Atawoge

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