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Ghana: Public school teachers begin strike over unpaid allowances

Ghanaian teachers, belonging to three unions, on Tuesday began an indefinite strike to demand unpaid allowances as workers continue to pile pressure on the government over financial matters.

The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) said the Ministry of Finance had failed to pay their incremental credit of their salaries and vehicle maintenance allowances for 2013 and 2014.

The ministry had also delayed in the payment salary arrears and non-payment of transfer grants, they said.

The three unions are in the public sector and the strike is affecting public first and second cycle schools, many of which are closed.

The unions are part of about a dozen unions which embarked on an indefinite strike last week over demands for them to be allowed to manage their second tier pension scheme.

The unions, mainly in the civil service, health and education sectors, said they would only rescind their decision if the government released the money that had accrued from their tier two pension funds into their various schemes.

The government has said it would resort to the court to interpret the Pensions Act.

The government has been grappling with various demands from public sector workers, whose salaries, under the Single Spine Salary Structure, now take about two-thirds of government revenue.

The government has been talking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance and the two sides last week completed preliminary discussions in Washington for a bailout.

“We had a productive dialogue and made further progress on identifying economic and policy reforms that could form the basis of a possible fund-supported programme,” the IMF said last week.

The government said it was also working in close collaboration with other multilateral partners, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Ghana’s economic fundamentals have worsened in recent times following huge budget deficit of over 15 per cent at the end of 2012 which saw the cedi, the local currency, depreciate sharply in the latter part of 2013 and the early part of 2014.

Inflation has soared above 15% and prices have shot through the roof. Although the cedi has over the past couple of weeks clawed back some gains, prices have remained high.

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