Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko-Brobby has appealed to teacher unions in the country to exercise restraint as government works around the clock to pay their Tier-2 pension arrears.
“This is not the first time we’ve been in arrears, but it is not something that government will renege on. I beg them, we should engage. We acknowledge that we are in arrears. I plead with my teacher unions to exercise restraint. Everybody knows what the country is going through. We will start engaging them and see how we can bridge the gap,” he said in an interview on Eyewitness News on Friday.
Teacher unions including the National Association of Graduate Teachers, the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) accused the government of defaulting in the payment of their Tier 2 pensions to the tune of over GH¢400 million.
The unions said several letters they sent to the Ministry of Employment went unanswered a claim Mr. Wireko-Brobby denied.
It’s not a crime to owe
Mr. Wireko-Brobbey who is also the Member of Parliament for Hemang Lower Denkyira constituency said it is not criminal for such pension payments to be in arrears.
He however urged the teachers to halt all discussions in the media and engage with government.
“I am taken aback a bit because these are issues that are not new to us, and we keep resolving them and I wanted to even ask the teachers the rationale for taking this to the public domain. My attention was drawn to it this morning, but who doesn’t know that we are in a financial crisis now? What matters to us most is to be able to pay every worker at the end of the month and that is what we have been doing.”
He also assured that the arrears will be paid with time but not at the moment since pensions are not for immediate usage.
“Pensions have a history, and we contribute to it for the future. What is important in these difficult times is that, every worker must be paid every month and that is what we have been doing, and we have been paying them timely since COVID-19 came. Pensions are not too problematic because it’s for the future, we find money and pay it, and now we are in arrears. We admit we are in arrears and that is not a matter to escalate to the media when we have acknowledged that we will pay, and it is not criminal to owe.”
The Deputy Employment Minister further assured that his outfit will schedule a meeting with leadership of the teacher unions next week to find ways to resolve the debacle.