The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), UCC Chapter has held a handing-over and swearing-in ceremony for newly-elected executives.
Speaking at the ceremony, the President of the Association, Dr. Samuel Bert Boadi-Kusi, noted that though the previous executives made significant achievements during their term of office, however, there were outstanding work to be done in order to overcome some of the challenges confronting members of the Union. “The deliberations during this year’s UTAG elections campaign have clearly brought to the fore key issues that need attention and resolution in order to achieve greater harmony, improve on the industrial health of academic staff and our University in general” he pointed out.
Issues to Tackle
Highlighting some of the issues his administration would champion during his term of office, Dr. Boadi-Kusi said they would address the grievances on promotion, renewal of appointment and recruitment. He promised to partner Management to develop a promotion document that would be largely acceptable by members. “To this end, we wish to appeal to Management to reflect soberly and resolve all problematic clauses in the draft promotion criteria which is to be tabled before Academic Board soon” he implored. He recommended the setting up of an independent body where grievances could be channeled. “The creation of an Appeals Board will help do away with any seeming conflict of interest on the part of the Vice-Chancellor and the Appointments and Promotions Board and deepen the confidence colleagues have in the system. It is our hope that this will reduce the number of petitions that go to the University Council from aggrieved applicants” he recommended.
Another issue Dr. Boadi-Kusi raised was the deplorable and depressing office spaces for lecturers. As I left many offices during my campaign, I was saddened to see many of our colleagues working on unpolished tables and awkward looking chairs, some offices were without computers and curtains, most young colleagues are sharing offices with no level of privacy. Simply put, we work in offices with very poor ergonomics” he lamented. He entreated Management to have a serious look at the situation because it had the potential to demotivate academic staff and lower their productivity.
The President of UTAG said under his leadership he would ensure the restructuring of allowances to motivate lecturers who engage in extra teaching activities as Department Registration and Examination Officers among others. He also said his team would liaise with Management to address issues concerning the teaching load of academic Senior Members, academic positions , security on campus, and human resource lapses.
Achievement of outgoing Leadership
The immediate past President of the Association, Dr. Eric Opoku Mensah, in his address, noted that UTAG under his leadership both at the national and local levels achieved great feats in spite of the challenges encountered upon assumption of office. “We entered office with UEW crises hanging over our necks and as a national executive team we engaged both the university authorities and government till some key lecturers who had been sacked and were restored back to their positions,” he explained.
According to him, his team worked hard with the National Executive Committee (NEC) of UTAG and lecturers of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), to restore the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Obiri Danso and all representatives on the Council. He indicated that they engaged government on issues concerning taking off retired professors at age 65 and above from payroll; negotiations on market premium and a presentation of proposed condition of service through National Council for Tertiary Education for consideration by government.
On the new Universities Bill, he noted that “Under my leadership, we have clearly expressed our views and positions on the said Bill and we hope the government will take steps to include same so that our interests and autonomy can be protected”.
As UCC local executives, Dr. Opoku Mensah reported that the welfare policy and constitution were reviewed to meet the needs of members. He further indicated that his team introduced the family day out programme which was massively patronised by members. On promotions, he said the views of UTAG had been captured in a proposal to be presented to Academic Board for approval adding that “ 90 percent of our challenges with the new proposal has been taken into consideration by the Appointments and Promotions and this amended document has been brought to us for final review before it will be tabled at Academic Board for consideration and approval”.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dora F. Edu-Buandoh who chaired the programme, commended the outgoing executives of UTAG for making UCC proud, especially at the national level. She assured the new executives that the Management of the University would engage them and address their needs adding that “UTAG is a key partner and I assure you that Management will listen to your concerns and together we can address them”.
Prof. Edu-Buandoh advised the executives to serve the interest of all members irrespective of their religious or political affiliation. “Let us stop branding people by their party colours and religious beliefs and respect each other’s views” she noted.