"THE TEACHER UNIONS" OR ONE GREAT LABOUR FRONT.
The genesis of labour unions dates back to the 18th century and the industrial revolution in Europe.
History has it that, early workers and trade unions played an important role in the independence of the United States. Although their physical efforts for the cause of independence were ineffective, the ideas they introduced were such significant in modern day labour security; such as employee protection and safety.
Labour Unions are usually formed for the purpose of securing improvement in pay, benefits, working conditions, or social and political status through collective bargaining by the increased bargaining power wielded by the banding of the workers.
In Ghana and for that matter, in the Education sector alone, we have about Eight or more Teacher Unions. GNAT, NAGRAT, CCT, ATAG, UTAG, TUTAG, CETAG, and TEWU are the well-known Teacher unions in Ghana. I said well known because there are some "silence" unions working their way to the top.
Leadership failures are the bedrocks of formation of multiple teacher unions; as the leaders of the old and Labour organisation in the education sector, one way or the other have both failed and disappointed their members to meet membership agitations which are mostly based on conditions of service. As dangerous enough, most pre-tertiary sector unions see themselves superior to the other hence unnecessary rivalry.
The multiplicity of labour unions in the education sector has never solved the chronic work-related problems in Ghana but rather continue to dig a grave in their Bargaining Power and making it weak and weaker.
Employers hate powerful trade organisations as they see them as a threat. The historic and famous America's trade and labour unions, the Federation of Labor (AFL), founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) under John L. Lewis underwent a merger in 1955 to give them more powerful bargaining autonomy. Their efforts saw the establishment of the Department of Labour in the United States.
I think it about time all the Teacher Unions in Ghana to come together and form one Great Empire of labour organisation.
The minister for education Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh on the 2nd June 2020, announced a 200% increment of Research Allowance which is only for Tertiary Teachers(UTAG & TUTAG) leaving the basic and second cycle teachers to their faith; as if they do not do or conduct research.
If there is a, one bigger front of the unions, collectively, benefits like research allowance would have to be rolled across the sector but with differences based on one's level of teaching.
To avoid the rivalry and compromising of leaders with employers among the teacher unions especially those in Pre-tertiary education sector, we need one bigger and great empire of Teacher Union, not Teacher Unions.
Livingstone Sefadzi Ahadzro
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