The National Labour Commission has directed striking teacher unions to call off their action with immediate effect and return to work.
Chairman of the Commission, Andy Kwabena Asamoah in a statement signed and copied to the Ghanaian Times yesterday said "the Commission in exercise of the authority conferred on it by Section 139 (1) (b) of Act 651 finds the Associations' action in violation of Act 651 and therefore the ongoing strike of the unions is illegal."
The directive followed a meeting between the NLC and representatives of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Education (MoE), the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC).
However, the unions represented by the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) failed to show up at the meeting.
Consequently after hearing the GES on the matter, the NLC found that in deciding to embark on the strike, the teacher unions failed to notify the NLC "and its employer" of their action which is in contravention of "section 159 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651."
It would be recalled that on Friday, December 5, the three teacher unions declared a nationwide strike effective Monday, December 9, over the failure of the government to pay their members what they described as legacy arrears.
The arrears, involving salaries and allowances, spanning 2012 to 2016 is said to be running into millions of cedis, with some teachers allegedly owed about GH¢50, 000.
According to the unions, all efforts to have the arrears paid had been in vain.
But in reaction to the strike, the GES expressed shock at the strike, saying the conduct of the union leaders was in bad faith and undermined the good working relations between both parties which had been established and nurtured over the years.
"It is, therefore, with utmost shock that management has learnt of the purported declaration of a strike action and states that the conduct of the union leaders is grossly an abuse of the principle of good faith and good working relations which have been established and nurtured over the years," a statement signed by the Director General, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwaa said.
The GES had subsequently vowed to publish the list of staff who had benefitted from the legacy arrears which it argued had saved government some GH¢11.3 million, to prove its case.
Meanwhile teaching and learning activities are at a standstill across schools in the country following the strike declared by the three teacher unions.
Although students and pupils were seen in some schools visited by the Ghanaian Times on Monday, teachers are not present to teach.
Some of pupils were spotted learning on their own while others were playing football and other sporting activities during a visit to some junior and senior high schools (SHS) in Accra.
Teachers and heads of the schools however declined interviews in adherence to directives from the GES not to speak to any media person.