Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Barring any last minute change in plans, teachers in Bayelsa State will from on Monday next week embark on an indefinite strike to push for the payment of their salaries and sundry other issues bordering on their welfare.
Aside the issue of non-payment of salaries, the teachers are also demanding the recall of their colleagues dismissed from the teaching service, adjusting for delayed promotions and alleged waning infrastructure in the state schools.
But the Bayelsa State Government had recently blamed the delay in the payment of the teachers on the verification exercise it embarked upon to, according to the government, weed out those who were fraudulently employed and many they described as ghost workers.
The government which had also bemoaned the falling federal allocation accruing to the state for its decision to commence payment of 50 per cent salaries, noted that there were discrepancies and fraudulent activities in the payroll of the education system in the state.
A statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Mr. Serena Dokubo-Spiff, had said the verification would rid the state of cases of ghost schools, ghost teachers, fraudulent increment and fraudulent designation of status/grade level, which the government claimed suggested criminal activity or intervention in the payment scheme.
But in a statement jointly signed by the state chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr. Kalaama Toinpre, and Principal Secretary , Mr. Johnson Hector, yesterday, the NUT stated that it could no longer bear the insensitivity of the government to the plights of its members.
“This action follows the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum given by the state and local governments by the State Wing Executive Council (SWEC) of the NUT Bayelsa State chapter over the non-payment of arrears of salaries owed teachers in the state.
“A 7-day ultimatum had further been given to the state and local government with effect from September 12, 2016, to address the issues,” the NUT noted.
The communique added: “Topmost on the issues are the non-payment of salaries of primary and secondary teachers for six months now. Dismissal of teachers employed in 2008 and 2009 and transfer of management and Duty-Post Allowances to principals and head teachers. Also included, according to the union were: the non-payment and failure to implement promotions of primary school teachers in 2015, non-payment of N18,000 minimum wage arrears and non-provision of instructional materials and infrastructural facilities in schools.”
The state NUT concluded that: “Should the issues be left unaddressed until the expiration of the ultimatum, teachers in primary and secondary schools will have no other option than to down tools with effect from September 19, 2016.”