TEACHER UNIONISM AND WELFARE OF TEACHERS
Attention every teacher who is reading this article or message. It is very important that we help educate ourselves on what is meant by teacher unionism and promotion of teachers’ welfare. We live in a country where teacher unions are known for taking dues and provident funds. Over the years the provident funds (what we mostly called mutual fund) has become a source of relief for many teachers as they can easily access quite a lower interest rate loans as compared to other financial institutions.
Among all the government workers in Ghana, teachers seem to be the target of loans from many financial institutions. Despite the teacher unions helping to support teachers in accessing lower interest loans, there is still a bigger gap of insufficiency. The level of welfare that should be attached to ‘mutual’ funds is lacking in almost all the existing unions.
The All Teachers Alliance Ghana (ATAG) has taken a step further to bridge this gap of insufficiency in promoting the true welfare of teachers. ATAG believes that since the association is registered as a welfare organization, the onus is on them to ensure that teachers’ welfare is promoted to the highest degree. The only argument we mostly hear from the other unions is that the mutual funds will be used to generate investment and profit, so that on pension, it can be released to you for support. Though we think it is a good idea on its own, we strongly believe it is insufficient in all manner of fairness. Fortunately for us SSNIT had restructured our pension scheme into Tier I and II (Tier III being optional). So we have enough pension schemes to cater for our future. What is most important is how we can make ends meet whilst in active service: put up decent houses, give our children a better and quality education, drive in a good cars, live decent and resourceful life and make meaningful investment.
So technically, welfare associations should not be focused on the pension needs of their members. They should rather be thinking about making life easy and comfortable for their members whilst in active service. They ensure that members make ends meet whilst in active service such as supporting them to achieve their aspirations and plans in life even before they retire from active service.
For this reason, the All Teachers Alliance Ghana (ATAG), established in 2016 and started operation in 2018 and fully recommended by GES and on the controller TPRS, had decided to give welfare its true meaning to the 21st century teacher. What is ATAG saying? Simply, what ATAG is saying is that in the next 10 to 20 years, any teacher who goes on pension cannot do anything meaningful with any amount between the ranges of GH¢20,000 – ¢35,000. Besides, our contributions to the provident funds (mutual fund) cannot accumulate an interest for it to hit that amount range. So therefore, monies contributed to the provident funds must serve as a conduit of cooperative activities rather than pension.
ATAG has taken a bold step to invest in the welfare of its members. The first point of call is to make loans affordable as much as possible. ATAG believes that with membership of only 10,000, the alliance can give effective and reliable loans to its members at 5% annual and up to only 16% in 36 months. This is to ensure that members get access to cheap, affordable and rely loans to execute their plans without having incurred losses or debt in the process. ATAG is willing to do this to ensure that no member is laden with unbearable loan throughout his active service even before he or she goes on pension.
Again, ATAG is willing to make the hire purchase a reality for members. No member will have to buy 32 inch television for more than GH¢2000 in the name of welfare. That is not true welfare. We allow our members to buy items at a market price and the association pays. ATAG will then deduct the amount without interest.
We know many teachers will begin to question the feasibility and credibility of this decision. But before I allay their fears, I want them to reflect on the recent reduction in loan interest by some teacher unions. The truth is that teacher unions have nothing to lose even at 1% interest rate for their members because they are welfare associations and not financial institutions. So, if ATAG says it is ready to reduce its interest rate to the lowest, you must understand it is possible. Currently, even without membership of 10,000, ATAG is giving loans at 8% and it is willing to bring it to 5% when its membership increases considerably.
What about our pension needs? Does ATAG not think about it? We are concerned about the pension need of our members but our policy is solely driven around seeking the total welfare of our members. Our pool of the provident funds will be used to cater for the true welfare of our members through affordable loans and other affordable avenues the Alliance will create its members. ATAG believes that at pension, your provident funds shall be returned to you as a form of compensation but not as pension remuneration (at this time you might not need to undertake any form of major project or plan).
The future is now and we admonish teachers across the country to join us to make this vision work. Visit www.gogpayslip.com and become part of teachers who believe in true welfare of teachers. Join the ALL TEACHERS ALLIANCE GHANA now and enjoy amazing packages of teacher welfare.