Labour Unions at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) say they will resist government’s attempt to stop members of the dissolved governing council from being part of the yet-to-be reconstituted one.They argue that the government has no business meddling in the affairs of the unions hence their resolve.
Addressing the press, Executive Member of the University Teacher’s Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr. Otchere Mensah, said government’s actions are unlawful.
“It is patently clear that government has no business meddling in the representation of UTAG or any other unions or associations on the University Council. This is what government is refusing to understand and appreciate, and has consequently created an erroneous impression that they can pick and choose who represents UTAG or any of the unions or associations or the Council.
“We categorically state without apologies that by the very act and statutes of KNUST, the representation of the Unions or Associations on the Council is not up for discussion with the government.”
Meanwhile, the National President of UTAG, Dr. Eric Opoku Mensah, has called on the National Peace Council and other faith-based organizations to speak up.
‘We won’t accept old members ‘
Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah had explained that members of the old council played a role in the chaos that led to the closure of the University, hence the decision not to include or accept any member of the old council onto the yet-to-be council.
An interim committee that was set up to temporarily run the school did not have the backing of major stakeholders because the concerned groups wanted the old council reinstated.
The government effectively abandoned the new Council and is now preparing to outdoor a new council with the Chancellor of KNUST, Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, leading the efforts.
The new council was to be outdoored last Friday, but that did not happen because the government’s members were not ready, and also because there is confusion as to whether some members of the old council, can be allowed onto the new council.
But addressing journalists in Accra on Monday, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah mentioned that, government’s position remains unchanged, because of its commitment to have a council with the needed freedom to bring calm to the University.
“Individuals who sat on the old council ought not to be on the new council. The old council is a party to the impasse that took place at the KNUST campus. Just as the actions of students, student’s leaders, school management and the council will be subjects of the full investigation when the University is re-opened. It is important to ensure that the Council that is put in place has the freedom to superintend over that exercise.”
“So the specific persons who constituted that old council cannot preside over the matters in which their own decisions and conduct will be a subject. It is in this spirit that government and some other groups have already indicated new nominees,” he noted.
Government presents nominees to KNUST Chancellor
The government has finally submitted its list of nominees for a reconstituted council to the chancellor of KNUST, awaiting approval.
The Information Minister said, “government has indicated its new members for the KNUST council. It is our understanding that two other groups (CHASS and NCTE) have also done so”.
Constitution of Council fails as gov’t clashes with UTAG, TEWU
Government’s attempt to force the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) at KNUST to present entirely new representatives to the school’s new governing council on Friday, forced a postponement of a swearing-in ceremony for the new council.
The KNUST-Chapter of UTAG, said the government’s demand was surprising, especially as both parties had earlier agreed that it was impossible for the government to dictate to them who to bring onto the council.
The government, after a high-level meeting with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who is also the Chancellor of KNUST, agreed that all representing groups on the KNUST governing council would present their nominees for a new governing council to be inaugurated on Friday, but that could not happen.
The KNUST Chapter of UTAG, said the government’s demand was surprising, especially as both parties had earlier agreed that it was impossible for the government to dictate to them who to bring onto the council.
Labour unions at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), are accusing the government of meddling in their affairs by trying to force them to change their representative before the new governing council is reconstituted.The Unions have described the government’s action as unlawful, adding that it sets a dangerous precedent and will not augur well for the future of the University and other public tertiary institutions in Ghana.
The unions made this accusation at a press conference held by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) together with other unions including the Teachers and Education Workers Union, Ghana Association of University Administrators, alumni of KNUST, and some professional and non-professorial representatives.
The unions said the government’s action is causing a delay in the reopening of KNUST, which has been closed down following a violent student protest last month.
An Executive Member for UTAG, Dr. Otechere Addai-Mensah, who addressed the media called on the government to respect the democratic rights of all unions in choosing their representatives to the council.
There is currently a standoff between the government and the labour unions over the selection of representatives to the yet-to-be reconstituted KNUST Council.
The constitution of a new council for the University was scheduled for last Friday, November 2, 2018, but could not be done after the government refused to accept the representatives of the unions who were on the dissolved council.
But the unions insist that the government cannot dictate to them which member they should present as a representative on the council.
“We want to say that government needs to clearly respect that democratic right which is enshrined in the acts establishing this very university. The international community is watching. Donor agencies are watching. International students and their parents are watching to see what will happen. If the government is committed to making sure that this university gets back on track, then it must simply respect the very democratic choices the respective unions have made. Once the government recognizes that, we all will come together to make sure that whatever is lost is restored, even if we have to work overnight,” Dr Otechere Addai-Mensah said.
He further charged major stakeholders in the country to speak up against the government’s attempts to ensure that academic work quickly resumes at KNUST.
“This is the time we expect peace council to come out and speak, this is the time we expect the Catholic Bishops Conference to speak, the Chief Imam and all other major stakeholders in this country should watch what is unfolding and speak about it, because if we don’t, we don’t know what will happen, he said.
There are fears that students of KNUST who are currently on a forced vacation due to the challenges on the school’s campus may stay longer at home beyond the Friday 9th November 2018 deadline, set by the government as a result of the stand-off between the government and the unions.
The Chancellor of KNUST and Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is yet to make any public statement about the impasse.
By: Marian Ansah | citinewsroom.com | Ghana