In 2006, NAGRAT declared a very effective strike that lasted two months. GNAT didn’t declare a strike, but all teachers joined the strike. Schools were empty in Cape Coast where I was working at the time.
In desperation, the government took the teachers to court to declare the strike illegal, and ordered teachers to go back to the classroom and “teach according to their conscience”.
October 2006 salaries of striking teachers were seized. Teachers remained bitter and went back to the classroom under duress to teach “according to their conscience”.
Though that strike resulted in a lot of reforms, it was a very difficult fight.
Under the leadership of the then Director General of GES, Michael Nsowah (the one who threatened yesterday to replace all striking teachers), the leaders were threatened, intimidated, warned, stalked, spied on, tempted with money as baits, and so on. They were even facing imprisonment at some point after the court ruling when teachers were still reluctant to go back to work. They remained resolute. In fact, at some point, Mr. Kwami Alorvi, the then NAGRAT prezo, referred to Mr. Michael Nsowah as an “articulator on the road” who is not doing anything for teachers, and yet wouldn’t give way to teachers to fight for themselves.
Nsowah’s pronouncement yesterday wasn’t new to some of us. That’s how he resolves labour issues with teachers: with threats. Ignore that. He’s got the power, we got the numbers.
Indeed, during the election year in December 2008, teachers did not forget October 2006. We didn’t forget our seized salaries. In fear and panic, government quickly released all the money back to the frustrated teacher, but it was too late. The teachers had already made up their minds before going into the polls. December 2008 was an unforgettable revenge month for the Ghanaian teacher.
To be continued…