The teachers' strike in Ghana is escalating as further demands are added to their grievances. As well as the pensions issue, teachers say that the introduction of performance related pay in 2009 was used as a pretext to withold increments to teachers, even without any appraisal mechanism being in place. Moreover many new teachers have not been paid at all. All three teaching unions GNAT, NAGRAT and CCT are calling on their members to honour the strike call.
The strike started last week when teachers joined other public sector workers in an indefinite strike over pensions. It seems that public service pensions have been handed over to a private company, the Pensions Alliance Trust. The unions are demanding that the money is paid into the pension schemes directly. A spokesperson for the unions said: "In as much as it would be morally wrong to take control of money that does not belong to you, we deem it puzzling that the government would find it convenient to unilaterally enter into a contract with PAT to manage the contributions of each public service workers in various public services."
Teachers' unions in the Ashanti region of the country have protested at the treatment of temporary teachers who have had their contracts terminated and are left destitute. Some have worked without being paid for over a year. On the facebook page of the Concerned Teachers Of Ghana, one said: 'I m a pupil teacher have taught for almost 19months without salary.We were told we will be paid only 3 months. Worse part of it l don't know whether I'm still a pupil teacher or not ' and another: 'Am a newly posted trained teacher and since August no allowance, just starving at my post. I wish we do something early because we are suffering.'
This treatment is typical of that meted out to teachers in the global South who are on temporary contracts, as many articles on this site testify. The policy of employing teachers on these contracts is one which is actively encouraged by the World Bank as a means of saving money and controlling teachers. Meanwhile, the World Bank's brother organisation, the International Monetary Fund is in talks with the government about a bailout. Ominously a spokesman for the IMF said:' We had a productive dialogue and made further progress on identifying economic and policy reforms', such reforms invariably mean public sector cuts and an increase in privatisation, both policies in line with the privatisation of pensions and the failure to pay teachers.