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Labour and industrial relations expert Mohammed Affum, has called on government to swiftly resolve the impasse between the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana(UTAG) and the National Labour Commission(NLC) by slashing the salaries of Article 71 office holders in order to send them back to the classroom.

He said the reason government cannot reach a decision that is sound enough to send the striking union back to the classroom is because its position is weakened due to the recent increase in the salaries of Article 71 office holders.

Mr Affum said this makes it very hard for the striking union to accept the non-malleable negotiating stance of government by refusing to meet their demands.

He said other unions like the Ghana Medical Association(GMA) and the Civil Servants Association(CSA) have prompted government for going on strike if their grievances are not attended to.

Mr Affum warns the government that if care is not taken the country is going to face a very disruptive industrial relations climate and that could augur that the government machinery is going to collapse.

He proffered that the best option for government is to take certain actions that will create the right psychological climate for negotiations to take place, especially with the public sector workers in the country.

Mr Affum made this pronouncement in an interview with 3FM’s Eric Mawuena Egbeta on the Mid Day news, while reacting on the heels of the impasse between UTAG and the NLC regarding the lack of willingness by government to meet their demands, with the NLC threatening legal action against UTAG.

“I would want the President to show leadership by initiating moves to have the salaries of Article 71 office holders’ salaries reduced because having increased them by 79% and giving others 4% and 7%, I think negotiation is going to be difficult with the workers”, he pointed out.

He added “as I did indicate, government position is very weakened but I believe that if leadership is shown and the right climate created, I believe that the parties can reach an agreement and the strike will be called off for industrial peace to take place.

“If that does not happen, what one can see is an industrial relationship climate which is characterised by strike actions and a possible shutdown of government machinery because of civil servants who are also aggrieved because they did not get what they deserve”.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah||Ghana