Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, GES Director

The Ghana Education Service (GES) says it will not be stampeded into paying illegal money to teachers under the guise of legacy arrears.

According to the service, it had saved the government GH¢11.3 million after detecting some anomalies in the payment of the arrears and that there was the need to do more to verify the genuineness of the payments before the affected teachers were paid.

The Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said it was unfortunate that with all the effort being made by the government, having paid 95 percent of the affected staff, the teachers still insisted on embarking on the strike.

To prove its case, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said, the GES would publish the list of its staff who benefited from the legacy arrears.

That, he said, was to clear the air and set the records straight about the government’s commitment to pay the debt.

Labour Commission

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa noted that the GES would take up the issue with the National Labour Commission (NLC), and that if by tomorrow the strike had not been called off, it would take its own internal disciplinary measures against the striking teachers.

He said the legacy arrears, which related to outstanding arrears between 2012 and 2016, affected about 120,232 members of staff of the GES, and that out of that number, more than 95 per cent had been paid off.

Last Thursday, the teacher unions in the country — the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) — said they would lay down their tools from today, Monday, December 9, over the failure of the government to pay the legacy arrears due members.

Addressing the press on behalf of the unions, the President of GNAT, Ms Philippa Larsen, said on Friday, November 28, 2019, the unions were invited to a meeting by the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the GES, the Controller and Accountant-General and the Ghana Audit Service.

“The subject for discussion was the legacy arrears which spanned the period 2012-2016. Primarily, we the unions were concerned with the payment of the said arrears because our checks had revealed that the arrears had been verified and approved for payment by the Controller and Accountant-General’s Internal Audit Unit about three weeks earlier.

“However, we were informed that when the verified data were handed over to the GES for review and action, the GES would not budge, because it claimed some discrepancies had been discovered with some of the payments already effected,” she said.

The President of the CCT, Mr King Awudu Ali, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the planned strike by the three unions would go ahead as scheduled from today.

“The GES’s statement does not mean anything to us,” he said.

Reaction from GES

But the GES, in a statement signed by Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, said since 2017, the current government had paid arrears due to those who deserved them, adding that it was significant to note that as of September 2019, about 87,556 members of staff of the GES had been paid their full salary arrears, representing 95 per cent of the total staff validated.

“On November 9, 2019, the management of the GES received another set of data from the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department covering 1,847 personnel who were to be paid the salary arrears,” it said.