Child Rights Int’l sues GNAT, NAGRAT, CCT
Child Rights International, a civil society group advocating for children’s rights, has filed a lawsuit against three teacher unions in Ghana – the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) – for engaging in an unlawful strike action.
According to Child Rights International, strikes by teachers are unconstitutional as they violate the rights of children.
On November 4, 2022, the three teacher unions embarked on a nationwide strike to express their dissatisfaction with the appointment of Dr. Eric Nkansah as the acting director general of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
However, Child Rights International, which advocates for children’s interests, invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in seeking a declaration that the strike and any future strikes are unconstitutional.
During the court proceedings on February 6, 2024, counsel for the plaintiff stated that while teachers have the right to form unions under Article 24(3) of the 1992 Constitution, the right to strike constitutes a limitation on unionization.
The counsel further argued that, according to Article 28(4) of the Constitution, all strikes, including the one in question, are unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court panel, presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, expressed dissatisfaction with the counsel’s arguments and inconsistencies regarding the relief sought by the plaintiff.
The panel emphasized the importance of strikes in a democratic society and questioned whether any strikes do not affect any group of people, thereby considering this particular strike to be no exception.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that workers, including teachers, have the right to unionize and strike, and therefore rejected the plaintiff’s relief.
The court deemed the lawsuit to be mischievous and incompetent after counsel withdrew it, and ordered counsel to pay GHC 40,000 in costs shared among all parties involved in the case.
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