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Teachers begin indefinite strike

Posted by By Sun News Publishing on 2008/06/30 | Views: 2531 |

Teachers begin indefinite strike


Primary and secondary school teachers across the country will today commence an indefinite strike action to press for the implementation of the Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) which has for sometime set off a battle between the teachers and the Federal Government.

Primary and secondary school teachers across the country will today commence an indefinite strike action to press for the implementation of the Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) which has for sometime set off a battle between the teachers and the Federal Government.

The strike was originally slated to start on Tuesday. It was, however, brought forward following what the teachers and their sympathizers described as the Federal Government’s insensitivity towards the teachers’ plight.

Deputy National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Onem Nelson Onem, who addressed a joint press conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other concerned organisations in Abuja on Sunday, said the strike action was coming earlier, because the Federal Government was subjecting the TSS implementation, to another round of stakeholders discussion.

The NLC would today hold a closed-door emergency National Administrative Council (NAC), in Abuja, principally to strategise on the successful conduct of the strike action and address other sundry issues, particularly the alleged support of government for a group of teachers dissociating itself from the strike action.

At Sunday’s NUT emergency brief, Onem stated that government’s decision to call for fresh negotiations, besides the fact that it amounted to a breach of trust, had made nonsense of the outcome of the long process of dialogue reached earlier and the efforts of all well-meaning institutions and personalities.

“Regrettably, the latest decision of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to the effect that the TSS would be subjected to another round of so-called stakeholders’ discussion is unhelpful. The implication is that this administration has broken the commitment it had given to the NUT at the forum brokered by the House of Representatives Committee on Education,” he observed.

Saying that the TSS was not for fresh negotiations, the NUT Deputy President recalled that the scheme had been worked out under a series of dialogues, which prompted the Federal Executive Council (FEC) directive to the National Salaries and Wages Commission (NSWC), to prepare the approved salaries and allowances table constituting the TSS.
He accused the government of lack of respect for collective bargaining and honouring its commitments, stressing that the defect would continue to query the administration’s claim for the respect of the rule of law.

Onem said government and not the union, should be blamed for reneging on the assurance that an enabling circular, giving a legal teeth to the TSS, shall be authorized, hence the option of the immediate resumption of the strike action, which ended on June 24, this year.
He directed all secondary schools principals, head teachers and teachers of primary, secondary, technical, unity, special and command schools to withdraw their services with effect from 12 midnight on Sunday’s night, adding that there would be no invigilation or marking of internal and external examinations in all the 36 states and Abuja.

Onem pleaded with parents for understanding in the teachers’ action, and advised them to withdraw their children from boarding houses, stressing that the action was aimed at enhancing the nation’s educational development.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has declared that it was incapable of implementing the TSS, saying it could not compel state governments to increase the teachers’ salaries.
Government’s latest stance on the TSS came to the fore at the weekend at a retreat organized by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Universal Basic education Commission (UBEC) for state commissioners for education, chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards the(SUBEBs) and other stakeholders in the basic education sub-sector held at Yankari, Bauchi State.

In deciding to jettison the idea of a separate TSS for NUT members, the federal government insisted that it was not its responsibility to compel state governments to increase the salaries of teachers or any group of persons in their employ, saying the responsibility lay with the National Salaries and Wages Commission.

Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Professor Mamud Junaid said the Salaries and Wages Commission had in 2006 advised the federal government against the implementation of the TSS because of its financial implications, adding that the federal government was at the point of implementing the TSS before the advice.

According to him, the TSS was adopted and approved by the National Council on Education (NCE) in principle with a view to improving the remuneration of teachers, adding that there was no tangible commitment to ascertain its feasibility.
Noting that the decision of the NCE was not binding on government, he said the council was a mere advisory body which could only urge states to implement policies provided by the government. “It has no right to force its implementation,” he said adding that the NCE didn’t take a decision on the TSS, but agreed that the salaries of teachers needed to be enhanced.
“TSS is not implementable. When that decision was taken, it was just a blank cheque because there was no proposal on the salary structure. But in principle it was approved by the National Council on Education to improve the salary of teachers.

“We presented it to the NCE and the Federal Ministry of Education was about to take it to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for endorsement before taking it to the National Council of State where the governors meet. It was at that point that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation advised the then minister of education to step down the memo because there was a complaint by the chairman of the National Wages and Salaries Commission that they didn’t participate fully in it and that they needed to look at it,” Junaid said.

According to him, only three states from the South-South geographical zone - Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom can pay their teachers’ salaries conveniently without running into financial problems, while a state like Lagos state would need an additional N8 billion in addition to its monthly appropriation to be able to pay the teachers.

His words: “So we were forced to look at the monthly revenue allocations of all the states, vis-a-vis the financial implication of implementing TSS. And the first scenario was to say ok, TSS can be implemented by states. And when we looked at the analysis, we discovered that only three states in the South-South could be in a position to pay TSS as proposed without incurring any deficit.”
In her speech, minister of state for education 2, Hajiya Aishatu Jibril Dukku said even if the federal government were to implement the TSS, not all teachers would benefit from it since according to her, a bulk of them are not qualified to receive the TSS.

Dukku repeated the ministry’s earlier suggestion to the NUT leadership to take the matter to the states and lobby the state governments, because, according to her, there is a clear cut of responsibility especially in the education sector.
“This issue is lingering because the NUT wants a centralized formula for the TSS. But federal government cannot implement it because there is a clear cut of responsibility between the Federal, States and Local Governments. Not all teachers can even receive the TSS because a bulk of them is not qualified to be called teachers. They just hiding under a cover of NUT to push for their demand,” she added.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.